Last Week Tonight is like Sesame Street for adults. That’s not because John Oliver would make one hell of a muppet (he would), but because just like the children’s programming we used to love, watching this show is so much fun you don’t even realize you’re learning about the fact that 31 states still allow firing or evicting someone based on their sexual orientation or non-binary gender identity.
In less than 15 minutes, Oliver succinctly describes everything that’s wrong with policies aimed at discriminating against LGBT populations because “they shouldn’t have more rights than me” and why religious freedom exemptions are actually sorta-kinda bullshit when the only reason one uses them is to deny another person their civil rights. Going to a gay wedding is all well and good, Oliver points out, but it’s ridiculous that so many politicians still oppose gay marriage just...because.
And Oliver has a message for those people who become constitutionals scholars as soon as something they don’t agree with happens (mostly Yahoo commenters): ‘The Constitution isn’t the star in Super Mario Bros. It doesn’t make you invincible.”
While you may be crying through your laughter by the time the segment’s over—the guy who’ll bake a cake for two dogs getting married but not a gay couple really took me over the edge—Oliver’s point about how strange it is that this is all happening in 2015 will stay with you. As will the reminder that just because federal law allows same-sex marriage doesn’t mean the fight for civil rights is over. Because if you’re living in a state where you can “get married one day and then be fired for it the next,” using those federal protections isn’t really an option. Nor does it change the fact that the majority of individuals running for president can’t even confidently answer the question of whether gay people should be discriminated against. We see and respect your support, Lincoln Chafee, but it would have really been great if such hopefuls as Trump and Jindal weighed in on the issue.
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