December 15, 2008

Mike Huckabee Talks Gay Marriage on The Daily Show

Fox News commentator and former Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee recently made an appearance on The Daily Show to promote his new book. In a two-part interview, Jon Stewart took the opportunity to grill Huckabee on the ideology of social conservatism. As you can see below , the two had the opportunity for some straight talk on gay marriage:

Same-sex marriage is a real hot-button issue right now, and one that I hope to discuss in greater detail in the future. But first I'd like to address a few of Huckabee's arguments in opposition to same-sex marriage.

The first is a common rationale among religious conservatives - that the purpose of marriage is to provide a platform for procreation and ensure the perpetuation of the species. Huckabee summed up this argument below:

"Anatomically, the only way we can create the next generation is through a male-female relationship. For 5,000 years of recorded human history, that's what marriage has meant."

Here's the problem with this line of thought: Reproduction is not a requirement for marriage. Heterosexual couples who choose not to bear children are afforded the same legal rights under the umbrella of marriage as those couples who do. If we're going to operate under the assumption that marriage exists to encourage or allow couples to procreate, then perhaps we should get to work on revoking the marriage licenses of childless couples.

The second point I want to touch on is Huckabee's belief that marriage is a static entity, unchanged through "5000 years of recorded human history." This demonstrates gross negligence of the evolution of marriage in our society. Prior to 1967, Virginia's Racial Integrity Act of 1924 prohibited interracial marriages, citing that:

"If any white person intermarry with a colored person, or any colored person intermarry with a white person, he shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by confinement in the penitentiary for not less than one nor more than five years."

It took a 1967 Supreme Court decision to affirm the right of interracial couples to marry. As a society, we have redefined marriage before to conform to ever-changing social trends. It's not surprising that the Courts have acted as the catalysts of social change on the issue of same-sex marriage -- often in our history, it is the Courts that have acted to safeguard civil rights and civil liberties against the will of the majority (Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954, for example).

Huckabee also touched on the other primary argument in favor of "traditional marriage":

"There's a big difference between a person being black and a person practicing a lifestyle and engaging in a marital relationship."

Here, Huckabee does some verbal tiptoeing, but implies that homosexuality is at its essence a lifestyle choice. Many religious conservative
s still cling to this belief - that one perhaps wakes up in the morning, fixes him/herself some coffee and decides to give the whole "being gay" thing a whirl. The naivety of this rationale is pretty appalling, considering the preponderance of evidence showing that homosexuality may have a genetic component rather than being a conscious decision.

What's clear is that with certain religious conservatives, humanity has taken a backseat to semantics, and reason appears to have been thrown out the window. No one wants to break down the doors of churches and force them to marry same-sex couples. But Mr. Huckabee and the religious right are starting to run short on secular, rational arguments in opposition to state-issued gay marriages.

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