Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Jon Stewart (mostly) Skewers Bill Bennett

Last night on "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart's guest was former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett. The discussion was primarily about gay marriage, and Jon took it right to the big boy, politely presenting him with logical, common-sense responses to Bennett's parroting of conservative talking points. One of my favorite exchanges was when Stewart said something like: "So why not encourage gay people to join in that family arrangement if that provides stability to a society?" Bennett replied that gay people are already part of families, that they are sons and daughters. To which Stewart rejoinded: "So that's the gay ceiling? That's as far as they can go?"

However, when the argument got to the slippery slope of "if we let gay people marry, what's to stop polygamy?" Stewart's answer was that polygamy isn't a part of the human condition, people aren't born to be polygamists. But that's not the right answer. The right answer is that since we are talking about equal civil rights, same-sex marriage ADDS rights for all. Today, any man can marry any woman and vice versa. It was not always thus, as the Lovings (the interracial couple of the 1967 Supreme Court decision) would tell you. By expanding marriage rights, any man could marry any woman OR any man and vice versa. Rights are expanded yet remain equal.

Polygamy on the other hand sets up an inherently unequal arrangement. Those who choose to enter into polygamous arrangements now have extra rights that those in one:one relationships do not have; namely, multiple spouses who can collect on Social Security survivor benefits and other financial benefits of marriage. This is inconsistent with the equality of treatment guaranteed under the 14th Amendment.

Click on the link above and watch Stewart do what he does very well. (You have to scroll down the page a bit to find the link.)

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