Jon Stewart has had Frost/Nixon on his mind a lot lately, so it's not at all surprising to see the Daily Show host channeling those old interviews in his sit-down with Mike Huckabee. The two men devoted an entire segment of a two-part interview to a debate over gay marriage. Commendations all around, to both parties, for having a civil and even-tempered talk about the issue, though I'll personally confess: I have no idea what needs to be done to my brain to make it understand Mike Huckabee's "reasoning" on a structural level. When I hear that gay marriage threatens the sanctity of marriage in general, I have my own marriage as evidence that this is not the case. And anyway, it's a lot like saying that my preference for chocolate ice cream over vanilla threatens the sanctity of dessert. Must we have these conversations over harms that are entirely imaginary?
It seems we must. Huckabee's key point is that people should have "the right to live any way they want to" but that marriage is about men and women, basically making babies. "Anatomically, let's face it," Huckabee says, "the only way we can create the next generation is with male-female relationships." I must have missed the news about the steep population decline we're undergoing! Stewart covers the whole history of how marriage has been redefined, including how only recently, interracial marriage (you know...the sort that produced the next POTUS?) was illegal. This doesn't move Huckabee in the least: "There's a key difference between a person being black and a person practicing a lifestyle."
Stewart does a good job penetrating that argument, mostly for the audience's benefit. He also seemed to score a hit on Huckabee when he said, "It's a travesty that people have forced someone who is gay to have to make their case, that they deserve the same basic rights." That suddenly sent Huckabee off into a new realm of argument, where he insisted that just because he doesn't "support the idea of changing the definition of marriage doesn't mean I'm a homophobe." Is that where the barricade to denying people this basic right has been built?