Jeez, this has been an awful week for my home nation. The Boston Marathon bombing, the Texas fertilizer plant explosion, and now the Senate Republicans’ sneering, in-your-face proof that a 90% American public preference and a 54-vote Senate majority still can’t stop them from blocking even a mostly toothless, watered down compromise gun control bill in service to their paymasters.
I need some good news, so I’m looking at New Zealand.
Yesterday, their Parliament voted on a historic equal marriage rights bill. Soon the news was out: it passed, by a significant majority. But what I didn’t learn until late last night was what happened afterward.
These videos had already gone viral by the time I got up this morning, and I don’t usually post things after they’re this far out of the barn. But they are so damn heartwarming that I’m making an exception.
The first is the announcement of the vote tally in Parliament, a moment met with applause — and a standing ovation by many of the Ministers in acknowledgement of the people watching in the gallery above, most of whom were gay or gay allies. I have never seen such a thing, and it brought a tear to my eye.
That alone makes the video worthwhile, but what comes next is surely a moment for the history books. A voice rings out from the gallery with the opening words of “Pokarekare Ana,” a traditional Maori love song composed during WWI, which has become an unofficial New Zealand anthem. In a wave, the gallery rises to its feet, along with many of the Ministers, and joins the single voice en masse.
It takes a stronger heart than mine to watch this without the screen going all blurry.
The second video is of Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson responding to the concerns he has heard about the bill from some of his constituents. His use of irony and scathing humor has most of the chamber roaring with laughter, but his points are dead on. I lost it when he got into physics and the nature of burning in hell, and had to go back to hear the parts I’d missed while cracking up.
I want to be a Kiwi. You guys have the best Parliament.