Stephen Colbert's The Late Show began on Wednesday with what seemed to be a plain speech from his office. But the speech ended with a man dressed as Abraham Lincoln and another man dressed as Robert E. Lee making out passionately in the background.
The segment was a not-so-subtle jab at North Carolina's controversial anti-LGBTQ law. The statute blocks municipal nondiscrimination laws that protect LGBTQ people in the workplace, housing, and other settings, and it bans transgender people from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity in schools and government buildings.
"Even after the Civil War, great figures like Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee believed this country could come together. That's why I will never withhold this show from anyone," Colbert said, as the two men threw themselves to the ground behind him. "I believe we must find common ground and hold firm to those things that unite us all. We must cling to each other passionately and really, really just go for it."
As Colbert pointed out, North Carolina's law has already come at a great cost to the state, including the loss of hundreds of jobs as PayPal and Deutsche Bank pulled expansions from North Carolina in protest, and several artists — such as Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam — canceled their concerts in the state.
So Colbert is just the latest to join the protests against the law — by forcing his audience to tolerate two men kissing in the background of his segment, just like state officials, employers, landlords, and business owners should tolerate and accept LGBTQ people, too.