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Jon Stewart picks apart conservative case against gay marriage

LATE NIGHT

December 14, 2012|By Meredith Blake

“The Daily Show” broadcast its last new episode of 2012 on Thursday night, and Jon Stewart closed the year by looking forward – specifically, to the two historic gay marriage cases going before the Supreme Court in 2013.

Stewart began with a little historical context, reminding viewers of the fact that it was President Bill Clinton who signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law, and and that states as politically divergent as California and Alabama have enacted constitutional amendments banning same-sex unions.

“It is hard to overstate how big a deal this could be for gay marriage,” Stewart declared.

From there, he spent some time picking apart the slippery-slope arguments made by conservatives like Sen. Lindsey Graham and Justice Antonin Scalia.

He began with Graham, who in an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, asked whether it’s possible for three people to genuinely love each other. Presumably, his point was that by expanding the definition of marriage to accommodate gays and lesbians, lawmakers would leave open the floodgates to more radical redefinitions of the term.

Unfortunately, Graham made this point while sitting next to two of his colleagues, Sen. John McCain and Sen. Joseph Lieberman. As Stewart observed, this created the distinct impression that the good senator from South Carolina was interested in some kind of unorthodox arrangement himself.

But more to the point, Graham was also relying on the “age-old slippery-slope argument,” a line of reasoning that, as Stewart put it, “plac[es] gayness into the category of whimsical desire for something unconventional, as opposed to a state of being who you are.”

Surely no one on the Supreme Court would fall for this kind of specious logic, Stewart predicted.

Ah, but not so fast: During an appearance on Monday at Princeton University, Scalia was asked by a gay student about dissents he’d written likening anti-sodomy laws with measures against murder and bestiality.

Scalia’s response? He expressed surprise that the student wasn’t convinced by his argument.

"Good old slippery, sodomy-slope Scalia," Stewart mused. Like many other observers, Stewart was irritated by the justice’s condescending response to the student at Princeton, which he paraphrased this way: “Yes, I’m surprised you weren’t persuaded, gay student who asked why I equate his love life with murder."

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