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John Oliver argued for stronger LGBT anti-discrimination laws in the U.S. on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight.
“It is long past time that gay people have the same rights that straight people have,” said Oliver.
The late show host started out the segment with a discussion on how far the country has come on gay marriage, pointing to John Kasich‘s recent answer at the GOP debate, where he said he would attend a gay wedding.
“A gay wedding just got applause at a Republican debate,” said Oliver. “Add that to the things that would have been considered unthinkable in 2004, like the phrase Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey.”
However, just because same-sex marriage is now legal, doesn’t mean LGBT people have equal rights in the eyes of the law, pointed out Oliver. “There are still a number of surprising ways to ruin a gay honeymoon.”
Oliver addressed the various ways LGBT people are still discriminated against, recounting the stories of a man who was fired from his job for being gay, a couple who was asked to leave a restaurant and called a homophobic slur and a doctor who refused to treat the baby of a lesbian couple.
“States have a checkered history when it comes to civil rights,” said Oliver, as he stated that LGBT people shouldn’t have to wait for every state to catch up with anti-discrimination laws.
The main argument against LGBT equality protections is that the laws could infringe on people’s religious freedom. “Religious freedom is not an inherently bad thing,” said Oliver, “And I’m not just saying that because I’m the current mega-reverend of Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption.”
Oliver addressed a case of religious freedom he does not agree with, a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple (although he did make a cake for a “dog wedding”).
When the baker said he is protected by the Constitution, Oliver said, “The Constitution isn’t the star in Super Mario Brothers. It doesn’t make you invincible so you can just do whatever the f—k you want.”
There is an Equality Act that is currently in Congress which would add LGBT protection to Civil Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act and more, but the bill currently has zero co-sponsors that are Republican.
“This should be what represents the threshold of true gay tolerance,” said Oliver, “Not whether or not you would consider attending a gay wedding.”
Oliver asked every 2016 presidential candidate the following question: “Would you support passage of a federal law or laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, specifically in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodation and access to credit?”
Only four candidates responded to his question. Watch below:
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