For those of you who don’t know, Mike Huckabee is an evangelical, former Republican governor of Arkansas, and he ran for president this year against stalwarts like Mitt Romney, John McCain and Sarah Palin. His affable aura got him quite a distance through the primaries this year before the GOP voters thought he was probably unelectable. Nonetheless he’s back up and out and trying to position himself as the presumptive Republican nominee for 2012 before Obama’s even taken office. Fortunately Jon Stewart won’t have a word of it – not because Huckabee’s a hard-line evangelical per se, but because he’s rampantly homophobic and generally makes no sense with his social conservatism.
Stewart quite rightly points out that the definition of marriage has evolved throughout the millennia, that to say that gay marriage should not be permitted based on this semantic reasoning (at least in public) is flagrantly to ignore the evidence of history. And it’s revealing that Huckabee then relies essentially on social Darwinism in order to counter opponents such as Stewart – gay people can’t have babies together, therefore we shouldn’t be allowed to get married – ie. marriage is only about procreation. Goodness me there’ll be quite a few straight people who don’t want or can’t have kids who’ll be quite offended at how he invalidates their relationships there! The other point of course is based on sheer ignorance – the composition of the family in 2008/9 has already evolved out of all recognition. Gay men, women and couples are having babies with friends who are lesbian and gay couples, straight female and male friends, you name it. We are already bringing up children and are doing so equally well and equally badly as straight people. So why should we not be allowed to partake of marriage?
Huckabee moves on to say that if the definition of marriage evolves, then it has to evolve to accommodate all ‘lifestyles’. Conveniently he dodges the question of why it should, when the issue is simply about embedding the social acceptance of same-sex relationships into the law. Of course this is where his real argument is hidden – that being gay is a ‘lifestyle’ – a ‘choice’:
“There is a difference between the equality of each individual and the equality of what we do.”
This is an ignorant and quite stupid argument – firstly because if equality really is divisible then it’s meaningless for anyone. But apparently merely because I have sex with people of the same gender, I should be treated less equally than others. What a vile way of looking at your fellow human beings. That’s certainly not ‘doing the right thing’, that’s using every semantic trick in the book to justify naked bigotry.
“There is a big difference between a person being black and a person practising a lifestyle.”
And we’re back to the ‘lifestyle’ argument, in a vain attempt to suggest that being gay isn’t an inherent quality. I guess I can understand why he’d do that – if he took on board that gay people’s sexual orientation were inherent, he would have to challenge his own bigotry. But he doesn’t of course, leaving both quotes making him look quite foolish and unable to trump Jon Stewart’s overall point that it’s just plain illogical to argue that we need greater social stability, yet be prepared to bar a whole segment of the populace from taking part.
“Religion is far more of a choice than homosexuality”
I suppose my delight at a comment like this from Stewart is more from frustration that so few left wing commentators (apart from say Keith Olbermann) are prepared to take the arguments presented by social conservatives and recast them in the world as it is rather than as they imagine it to be. I have the greatest respect for Jon Stewart for taking on Mike Huckabee so forcefully, but also so intelligently and gracefully. But we’re in the age of Obama, where intelligence is once again prized greater than ignorance.
“You talk about the pro-life movements being one of the great shames of our nation. I think if you want number two I think it’s a travesty that people have forced someone who is gay to have to make their case that they have the same basic rights.”
And I’ve never heard a gay person articulate that argument any better. Thank you, Jon Stewart.