I Don’t Heart Huckabee

I just watched the December 9th episode of “The Daily Show”, which ended with Jon Stewart’s interview with Governor Mike Huckabee on the issue of same-sex marriage.

Stewart did a good job with the interview, making his point forcefully without being disrespectful to his guest. He raised almost all of the relevant points, he explained them well, and he called Huckabee on his weaker points.

But it’s just infuriating to see this left as a simple disagreement between two passionate but mutually respectful sides, when it’s not. Huckabee brings nothing to the table, and every single one of his arguments is easily refuted:

  • Earlier in the interview, Huckabee talked about being against “intrusive government.” He then proceeded to argue that banning same-sex marriage is justified, which is the very definition of intrusive government.
  • “The only way that we can create the next generation is through a male/female relationship.” Which means that marriage is solely about procreation. But to the best of my knowledge, heterosexual couples are still allowed to marry even if one or both of them is infertile. Even more alarming, heterosexual couples can be married even if they don’t plan to have children! If Huckabee is concerned about the definition of marriage, then the definition of marriage should be “two adults who can and will produce a child.” But that’s not what he says, he says “a man and a woman.”
  • “30 states have had it on the ballot, and in all 30 states, it’s passed.” Might doesn’t make right. We have a judicial system specifically to guarantee that the rights of a minority are not overwhelmed by the will of a majority. But when the judicial system does its job, people scream that they’re “legislating from the bench.”
  • “…even in states like California, which no one would say is socially conservative.” Except for San Diego, the majority Catholic Latino or Baptist African American populations of LA, and most of the rural areas in central California. Which everyone understands are socially conservative, and are exactly the demographic that voted in favor of Proposition 8.
  • “It’s not that they’re saying they’re going to ban something, as much as they’re going to affirm that it’s how it’s always been.” As Stewart points out, Prop 8 in California does ban same-sex marriage. Claiming that it’s not a ban is completely disingenuous and cowardly.
  • “If we change the definition, then we really do have to change it to accommodate all lifestyles.” The slippery-slope non-argument is nothing but bullshit. It’s the second-oldest argument against same-sex marriage, and the most easily refuted. Huckabee’s ridiculous example of “the guy in West Texas who has 27 wives” is nonsense: that is a fundamentally different construct than two consenting adults entering into an exclusive contract of marriage. To equate same-sex marriage with polygamy is nothing more than a lie.
  • “There’s a difference between the equality of each individual and the equality of what we do, and the sameness of what we do.” and later “There’s a big difference between a person being black and a person practicing a lifestyle.” Hot on the heels of the slippery-slope lie, is this, the oldest argument against same-sex marriage, which is that being gay is a choice or a lifestyle. While there are millions of people who would be able to patiently explain to Gov. Huckabee that it isn’t a choice, and that the word “sexual orientation” instead of “sexual preference” is more than just PC name-wrangling, the fact that being gay isn’t a choice is actually irrelevant to this discussion. Because the choice that people are making is choosing to enter into a stable and loving relationship with another adult. If you can rationally and logically prove that that “lifestyle choice” is detrimental to society, then you are welcome to ban same-sex marriage, but you’ll have to ban heterosexual marriage as well.
  • “Religious people don’t have the right to burn others at the stake, they don’t have the right to do anything they wish to do.” Except, apparently, violate laws regarding the tax-exempt status of religious institutions and use their finances to campaign for political issues that affect people who don’t subscribe to their religion.
  • “Those who support the idea of same sex marriage have a lot of work to do to convince the rest of us.” No, you arrogant bastard, those who support same-sex marriage don’t have any obligation to ask for your permission before entering into the same types of relationships that millions of heterosexual couples are granted by default. Actually, Stewart put this one a lot better than I did. It’s a fucking travesty that people can be subjected to the demand, “You say you’re not a pervert? Prove it.”
  • “If a person does not necessarily support the idea of changing the definition of marriage, it does not mean that they’re a homophobe.” No, if a person’s a homophobe, it means that he either doesn’t understand (or care to understand) homosexuality enough to know that it’s not a “lifestyle choice,” or that he believes that homosexual relationships are detrimental enough to society that they should be relegated to a lesser legal and social status. If a person supports the idea of changing the definition of marriage, it means that he wants to write it into law that marriage is about sex and procreation and not the loving relationship of two consenting adults. So apparently, Huckabee is both.
  • “Words do matter. Definitions matter.” And just as Huckabee doesn’t like being called the word “homophobe,” I suspect that thousands of married couples don’t like having their relationships called “civil unions” or “lifestyle choices.”

Stewart put it well: like the issue of abortion, the issue of same-sex marriage has passionate people arguing on either side. But this is not like that argument, because there aren’t two valid sides. There is just right and wrong — wrong both in the moral sense that it’s a gross inequity and is fundamentally unfair, but in the more relevant logical sense. There’s simply no rational or logical justification for banning same-sex marriage. People have tried over and over to present the issue as if it were a rational difference of opinion, and over and over again they’re proven wrong. That’s why they toss the hot potato to state amendments, where the people can vote on the issue without having to provide a rational justification.

Whenever this issue pops up, you always see someone trying to smooth over the situation by saying “we’re making progress” or “people will see the light eventually” or “fighting bigotry always takes time.” The question is why does it take time, every time? How come every time you want to teach people to treat each other fairly, you have to start over from scratch? That’s not the sign of the inexorable progress of time; that’s the sign of a severe learning disability.