Friday, November 9, 2007

Hard-Core Huckabee

Behind all the charm and aw-shucks folksiness of Mike Huckabee lies the heart and soul of a hard-core religious fundamnentalist who has no problem denying an awful lot of people the same rights as everybody else in this country just because they’re gay.

Let me ask you about the marriage issue. You spoke with the Concord Monitor many months ago. And according to the transcript of that you said, you would tend to leave it to the states if they wanted to have some sort of civil unions law that gave gay couples the rights of marriage without calling it marriage. Is that accurate?

I have never supported civil unions, and I don’t. I don’t think it is something that is a good thing. I think in fact it’s something that in fact just leads us to the ultimate idea of same-sex marriage, which I don’t support. I went back and tried to read that transcript, and I can’t argue with what they said, because I don’t have anything. I don’t have another transcript to say, well we recorded it differently. I’ll just assume that was correct. I either misspoke or misunderstood. The only thing I can reconstruct it is that I may have implied that I would prefer to see — because I have always supported — a marriage amendment at the federal level, and a life amendment. I may have acquiesced that if that can’t happen, I understand that states may pass on their own. But I don’t support the idea that there would be civil unions, every state would have their own set of rules on that.

So just to clarify, you would oppose a state like New Hampshire choosing to pass a civil union bill that gave gay couples similar rights to couples that are heterosexual.

Yeah. Because once you give it in one state, then what keeps that couple from having it in New Hampshire and then moving to Arkansas and saying, “Hey, you have to accept what the other state did.” That’s why it is better cleared up by a marriage amendment that just says marriage is what it always has been. We are not redefining it. It’s not that you are opposing something. You are actually affirming something. That’s the way I really do feel. It’s important to communicate it. My position is that it’s the advocates for gay marriage that are opposing traditional marriage by wanting to change the definition and the rules. Those of us who are traditional-marriage people would say, We are not against same-sex marriage as much as it is we are for keeping the traditional understanding of marriage intact. [ Emphasis in original.]

When I hear people carry on about keeping “traditional marriage” intact, I want to know what traditions they’re talking about: the arranged marriages of the bible where the father sold his daughter off to a business partner, or the polygamous marriages that a lot of traditional people had back in those days, plus a little something on the side? Or the traditional marriage laws we used to have here in the United States that forbade white people from marrying someone — presumably of the opposite sex — of another race? Does Mr. Huckabee want us to reinstate the miscegenation laws which were such a powerful tradition? That was the law in a lot of states as recently as forty years ago and only overturned by those damned activist judges on the Supreme Court. And what about divorce? Talk about something that threatens traditional marriage; if Mr. Huckabee wants to keep traditional marriage intact, perhaps he should work harder to keep those who can get married in the first place from splitting up before he starts dictating to the LGBT community what we can or can’t do.

Mr. Huckabee sees civil unions as the slippery slope to gay marriage. Oh, dear, the old slippery slope. But what he’s really saying is that he would like to impose his religious values on people who may or may not be religious at all. Since marriage, which is a religious ritual, has become inexorably intertwined with civil law and is probably the only religious rite that has been given a place in the canons of a presumably secular society, it makes it difficult to talk about same-sex marriage without treading on religion. But saying that civil unions represent a threat to the religious aspect of marriage is a straw man argument. The state should be able to recognize a legally binding contract between two people that grants them all the rights, responsibilites, and benefits of marriage without all the fables and superstition that go along with some mumbo-jumbo chanted over them by some priest. Mr. Huckabee, along with all the other anti-gay-marriage Henny Pennys, won’t even allow civil unions because it somehow means that it will lead to Adam and Steve demanding that the church down the street perform the ceremony. But since there is no obligation placed on the church to perform every marriage by a state granting a marriage license, why would there be such an obligation with gay or lesbian unions? As far as the state is concerned, once you’ve filled out the forms and paid the fee for the license, you’re married. The rest of it — the ceremony, the reception, the honeymoon in St. Kitts, the interminable thank-you notes for the matching bath towels — is all a lot of ritualistic crap imposed on our society by the church and greedy corporate wedding planners who know how to exploit someone like a rich father of the bride. No church is required to marry anyone they don’t want to. The Roman Catholics don’t even recognize some marriages performed by other denominations, and the orthodox Jews sit shivah when one of their faith marries someone who isn’t equally orthodox.

What it comes down to is that Mr. Huckabee is intent on imposing his religious values and beliefs on a secular society and relegating a sizeable segment of the population to second-class citizenship under the gay version of Jim Crow via the Federal Marriage Amendment and the Human Life Amendment. (Continue reading the interview if you want to see what he has in mind for the reproductive rights of women.) He has no qualms whatsoever about making that clear.

That may be refreshingly candid, and it may qualify him as a Baptist pastor, but not as the President of the United States.