On Sunday’s Last Week Tonight (August 23), host John Oliver’s main topic of discussion was the Equality Act that’s currently in Congress, and why it was important to introduce federal protection in the US against anti-LGBTI discrimination.
And he didn’t pull any punches laying into those who claim that their religion is a reason to refuse providing services to gay people.
To illustrate this, he highlighted the example of Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding. Despite the fact that he had previously made a wedding cake for a ‘dog wedding’, Phillips cited his religious beliefs as the reason why he couldn’t make a wedding cake for a gay couple.
Phillips went on to say that the US Constitution, ‘guarantees me the right to practice my faith, my religion anywhere, anytime, there are no restrictions on that. It also gives me the right to free speech anytime, anywhere.’
Oliver points out that courts have already decided that there are limits on religious freedom, having already decided that you can’t discriminate against people because of their race and claim religious freedom as an excuse. There are also limits on free speech.
‘The constitution isn’t the star in Super Mario Brothers. It doesn’t make you invincible so you can do whatever the f*** you want.’
He noted that in Colorado the baker lost his case as the state has an anti-discrimination law, ‘but there are still way too many states that don’t have anti-discrimination laws at all… so maybe it’s time we just fixed this nationwide once and for all.’
This leads him into an explanation of the Equality Act currently before Congress, which has over 200 co-sponsors. None of the co-sponsors are Republicans. By contrast, two Republicans have sponsored proposals for a National Lobster Day in September – something Oliver considers to be considerably less important.
‘This bill represents the bear minimum of not being discriminated against and this should be what represents of true gay tolerance, not whether or not you would attend a gay wedding.’
As Gay Star News has previously reported, the Equality Act has the backing of many major businesses in the US, including Intel, IBM, Apple, Google, Twitter, Nike, Facebook and American Airlines, among others.
Oliver’s producers contacted all the current Presidential candidates for 2016 and asked them: ‘Would you support passage of a federal law or laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, specifically in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodation and access to credit?’
Only four candidates replied to them, with three Democratic candidates saying they supported such a law and one, a spokesperson for GOP candidate Rand Paul, simply saying, ‘We’ll pass, thanks.’
Watch the video below.