Even though 36 states have legalized gay marriage and the majority of Americans support it, Republican presidential hopeful and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee isn't fazed, and doubled down on his anti-gay stance on Sunday's edition of CNN's State of the Union.
During the profoundly out-of-touch interview, Huckabee made offensive comments calling homosexuality a "lifestyle" and comparing it to vices like drinking and smoking. He also advocated for the rights of business owners to deny service to gay customers and insisted gay marriage wasn't a "political issue" but a "biblical" one. Not content to let those statements stand on their own merits, Huckabee added that his opposition to gayness was just like the Jewish and Islamic prohibitions on owning or eating unclean animals.
Check out the clip below:
Asked whether he believed being gay was a choice, Huckabee alluded to his theoretical gay friends: "People can be my friends who have lifestyles that are not necessarily my lifestyle. I don't shut people out of my circle or out of my life because they have a different point of view."
Then he compared being gay to his friends who smoked and drank: "I don't drink alcohol, but gosh — a lot of my friends, maybe most of them, do. You know, I don't use profanity, but believe me, I've got a lot of friends who do. Some people really like classical music and ballet and opera — it's not my cup of tea."
Finally there was this, in which Huckabee said asking Christian businesses to serve gay people was like forcing Jewish people to serve "bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli" or "asking a Muslim ... to have dogs in his backyard."
"We're so sensitive to make sure we don't offend certain religions, but then we act like Christians can't have the convictions that they've had for 2,000 years," Huckabee said.
Many Muslims consider dogs to be impure based on a hadith from the Prophet Muhammad, while bacon is definitely not kosher. But these prohibitions are far from universally observed. Huckabee essentially relied on cheap stereotypes to sell his point that Christians view LGBT people just like other religions view unclean food or animals.
That's only a little less dehumanizing than, say, Rick Santorum's 2004 comparison of same-sex marriage to bestiality with a box turtle. So when Huckabee added that "as a biblical issue, unless I get a new version of the scriptures, it's really not my place to say, OK, I'm just going to evolve," he's really just repeating the same anti-gay rhetoric that Republicans have been using for decades. While Huckabee admitted there is "room in the tent" for Republicans that support gay marriage, he's not one of them.
What's more, the comparison fails on its own merits: The products a Jewish deli owner chooses to sell or what pets a Muslim adopts has nothing do with whether Christians have the right to interfere with gay peoples' right to marry.
His claim that he had gay friends also inspired some Twitter mockery:
Huckabee remains in third place among likely GOP candidates for president in 2016, but polls well among "traditional values" voters. Unfortunately for him, the influence of white evangelical Christians in politics is steadily shrinking, even in the South, and their agenda was thoroughly repudiated in the 2012 presidential election. Even a sizable majority of young Republicans support gay marriage.
Bigoted views on gay people won't win Huckabee any support beyond the primary season. But we don't actually want to silence him: So long as he keeps belittling gay people, calling Jay Z a "pimp" or ripping his hair out over the fact that ladies swear and use birth control, he's giving the American public more reasons to never vote him into the Oval Office.