Almost correct

According to, presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee is trying out some new(-ish) ways to spin gay marriage into something Republicans can exploit without shooting themselves in what remains of their bullet-riddled feet.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on Sunday said being gay is akin to choosing to drink alcohol or use profanity — lifestyle choices he says are appealing to others but not to him.

The former Baptist pastor, who is weighing a second run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, also claimed that forcing people of faith to accept gay marriage as policy is on par with telling Jews that they must serve “bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli.” That dish would run afoul of kosher rules in the same way Huckabee sees asking Christians to accept same-sex marriages.

Ooo, so close, but he fumbles on the one yard line.

Part of the reason for his stumble is that he starts out on completely the wrong foot by assuming that people choose their sexual orientation, as though you could pick who you do and do not find attractive. That’s not just wrong, it’s stupid, and it throws off the whole rest of his stride.

Where he makes some progress is when he realizes that gay marriage is like profanity and alcohol and non-kosher foods—all things that the government has no business prohibiting, and all things that people should be able to do without being discriminated against by any particular religious majority. But he fumbles when it comes to discerning where the actual parallels lay.

Forcing Christians to accept gay marriages is like forcing Jews to accept the fact that some people eat non-kosher foods. That’s it. You’re  not violating the rights of any Jews by eating bacon or ham or other pork products. Their religion has no right to impose constraints on your diet—or your marriage.

Forcing Christians to perform gay marriages would indeed be akin to forcing Jews to serve non-kosher foods. But, earth to Huckster: nobody is trying to force Christians to perform gay marriages. Forcing Christians to sell gay couples the same wedding cakes they sell anyone else is like forcing Jews to sell Gentiles the same cold cuts they sell to anyone else. That’s not discrimination, and in fact it’s the exact opposite.

Now, if you’re a baker, and a gay couple wants you to make a custom wedding cake with the message “Congratulations Ted and Ike” and you don’t believe you can bring yourself to write a congratulatory message, then, hmm, I’ve had mixed feelings about this, but I think you should probably have the same right to refuse that message as you would have to refuse a hateful and bigoted message. If you can’t bring yourself to congratulate someone on their wedding because of their sexual orientation, you’re a bigot and should be ashamed of yourself, but I think the principle of free speech has to protect you from people who would try to force you to express a message against your will.

If they say, “Fine, just sell us the cake and the icing and we’ll decorate it ourselves,” though, then you’re stuck. You can’t refuse to sell them the product, because that would be discrimination. Just like the Jews can’t refuse you service because of your religion, you can’t refuse gays (or Jews or blacks) because of your religion.

So nice try, Huckster, but we’ve seen through your hypocrisy and bigotry. You’re trying to promote prejudice against gays and a false, self-absorbed persecution complex among Christians, and you’re only hurting yourselves.


  1. Nick Gotts says

    Irrelevant to your point, but worth noting that observant Jews have no objection at all to non-Jews eating non-kosher foods: the doctrine as I understand it is that abstaining from these foods is specifically part of the Jews’ covenant with God. Whether Muslims feel the same (since they think everyone should be a Muslim), I don’t know.

  2. says

    @1: My view is that Judaism espouses that tolerance because it’s almost never been in a position of being able to force its rules on anyone else, and it spent about 15 centuries having to play nice with the Christian majority to survive at all. But I’m cynical that way (ie. about the reasons particular religious traditions evolve the way they do).

    @OP: I don’t know if Huckabee mention this, but you’ve left out the aspect in which Christian JPs (or whatever the appropriate local official is called in one’s own jurisdiction) may be required to solemnize same-sex civil weddings. My view is that, while churches have the right to refuse their rites (see what I did there?) to anyone for any reason, civil marriages are not religious rites, and must not be restricted by sectarian rules, and objecting Christian officials need to have the concept of church-state separation hammered into their heads very firmly, or they should resign as unfit for their jobs.

    • Deacon Duncan says

      You’re right: if anyone is a government official, then as a representative of the state, they have a legal and ethical obligation to maintain impartiality and deliver the same services to gays (and Jews and blacks and so on) as they do to anyone else. If that overrides their religious convictions, then they should consider whether they, as believers really want to take an active role in secular government, the same way a Jew or Muslim would have to consider whether they really want to pursue a career as a pig farmer.

      As to your first point, two words: Israel. Gaza.

      • says

        As to your first point, two words: Israel. Gaza.


        Yes, Israel is where Judaism has (for once) gained political power. However, the modern state of Israel is nominally secular, the majority of Israelis are cultural Jews (ie. not particularly religious), and are not seeking to impose eg. kosher or Shabbat rules on Gaza, the West Bank, or non-Jews in Israel proper. Israeli policy towards the Palestinians is driven more by simple politics and territorial expansionism than religion.

        The place where you do see aggressive religiosity is among some of the ultra-Orthodox neighbourhoods in Jerusalem, who demand sex-segregated public buses, harass “improperly” dressed women on the street, etc. Their Judaism is protected by the larger Israeli environment, giving them the freedom to let the theocratic impulse out in daylight.

      • Deacon Duncan says

        Hmm, definitely agree with your second paragraph, and I can see your point with respect to the first. Does Zionism count as religious? I have a feeling there’s not a strict yes/no answer to that one.

      • Sines says

        Whether Zionism counts as religion is not the point, I think. Christians want to enforce their religion on others. Zionists want to do something because of their religion, and people happen to be in the way of that. Both are hurting people because of their religion, but the Zionists don’t need any particular solution. Whatever lets them have their land is a-ok with them.

        However, the Christianity of these people demands a particular answer, that everyone adopt their religion.

        Essentially, if everyone left the Holy Land, the Zionists would be happy to just ignore them as long as they never came back. These kinds of Christians would settle the holy land, and then chase down those runaways and force them to come back and start worshipping Jesus.

  3. says

    Forcing Christians to perform gay marriages would indeed be akin to forcing Jews to serve non-kosher foods. But, earth to Huckster: nobody is trying to force Christians to perform gay marriages.

    I’m sure he knows. He also knows that this will go over well with his constituency. The fantasy that Christians are a persecuted minority is entirely too attractive to set aside just because the facts don’t add up.

  4. ericblair says

    Sexual orientation is not a choice, but all marriages, gay or straight or otherwise, are choices – a point the Huckster has overlooked.

  5. peggin says

    A better analogy: Huckabee trying to pass a law forbidding gay marriage simply because his religious beliefs say it’s wrong would be like if an Orthodox Jew tried to pass a law making it illegal for anyone of any religion to sell or eat bacon-wrapped shrimp simply because their beliefs say it’s wrong.

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