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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 29, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 13
Huck won't have it - Former governor says he'll leave GOP if it endorses equality
Section One
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Huck won't have it - Former governor says he'll leave GOP if it endorses equality

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Less than 24 hours after being endorsed by RNC chair Reince Priebus as a potential Republican Party spokesperson on LGBT issues, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee threatened that he and his fellow evangelicals would 'take a walk' if the GOP supports marriage equality.

As a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, Huckabee won a reputation as a common-sense politician with a sense of humor and the ability to relate to rank-and-file voters.

'I always tell people: Listen to Governor Mike Huckabee,' Priebus said March 25, echoing the public perception of the former governor. 'I don't know anyone that talks about [same-sex marriage] any better.'

Huckabee's reputation was always at odds with his fundamentalist religious views, however, as he demonstrated in a NewsMax interview soon after Priebus's remarks. Asked about Republican Sen. Rob Portman's endorsement of marriage equality and the possibility that the GOP as a whole might also reverse course and accept same-sex marriage, Huckabee responded with a threat to withdraw from the party.

'They might [endorse same-sex marriage],' he said. 'And if they do, they're going to lose a large part of their base because evangelicals will take a walk.'

AN 'OBJECTIVE STANDARD'
'And it's not because there's an anti-homosexual mood, and nobody's homophobic that I know of, but many of us, and I consider myself included, base our standards not on the latest Washington Post poll, but on an objective standard, not a subjective standard,' Huckabee continued.

'I have great sympathy and extraordinary admiration for Senator Portman. I consider him a friend and I value his work in the Senate and think he's a great person. The mistake is that we sometimes base our public-policy decisions on how we feel, how we think, maybe even some personal experiences, and we don't regard a lot of these issues from the standpoint of an objective standard.

'Let me explain what I mean by that. If we have subjective standards, that means that we're willing to move our standards based on the prevailing whims of culture. Politicians have an obligation to be thermostats, not just thermometers. They're not simply to reflect the temperature of the room, or the culture, as it were. They're to set the standards for law, for what's right, for what's wrong, understanding that not everybody's going to agree with it.

'On this issue, I recognize the culture is moving away from the traditional standard, but it's almost like saying, well, we have a basketball team and nobody on the team can hit the goal that's 10 feet off the floor so we're going to lower the goal down to six feet and that way everybody can slam-dunk the ball.

'So the question is, have you have improved your basketball game? Or have you actually just changed the standard so it looks like you're doing better? And that's my concern.'

FIGHTING THE FUTURE
While these views might have come as a surprise to Reince Priebus, they should not surprise anyone who is familiar with Huckabee's record.

'I support and have always supported passage of a federal constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman,' Huckabee wrote on his 2008 campaign website. 'As President, I will fight for passage of this amendment. My personal belief is that marriage is between one man and one woman, for life.'

Huckabee has also opposed ENDA, DADT repeal, federal hate-crimes protections for LGBT people, and adoption rights for Gay and Lesbian couples.

If Huckabee's intransigent opposition to equality is typical of the evangelical wing of the Republican Party, and it probably is, the GOP will face huge obstacles trying to update its image and appeal to younger voters, who overwhelmingly accept Gay and Lesbian relationships.

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