Announcing his candidacy for president in his native town of Hope, Arkansas, Huckabee — to great applause from his audience — criticized efforts to “threaten the foundation of religious liberty by criminalizing Christianity and demanding that we abandon biblical principles of natural marriage.”
“Many of our politicians have surrendered to the false God of judicial supremacy, which would allow black-robed and un-elected judges the power to make law as well as enforce it, upending the equality of our three branches of government as well as the separation of powers so very central to the Constitution,” Huckabee continued. “My friends, the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being and they cannot overturn the laws of nature or of nature’s God.”
The sense that the United States is rooted in religious traditions that should remain unaltered was a persistent theme in Huckabee’s announcement speech, particularly when he talked about his youth growing up attending school in Arkansas.
“We prayed at the start of each day and we prayed again before lunch, and I learned that this exceptional country could only be explained by the Providence of Almighty God,” Huckabee said.
Huckabee’s warning to the Supreme Court is consistent with his decades in his office over the course of his political career in which he’s made numerous anti-gay comments.
In a January interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Huckabee said courts alone are unable to institute same-sex marriage and rulings in favor of gay nuptials will lead to polygamy.
“I hear governors and even some aspirants to the presidency say well, ‘that’s settled, and it’s the law of the land.’ No, it isn’t the law of the land,” Huckabee said. “Constitutionally, the courts cannot make a law. They can interpret one. And then the legislature has to create enabling legislation, and the executive has to sign it, and has to enforce it.”
According to research compiled by the Human Rights Campaign, other anti-gay statements from Huckabee include calls to impeach judges who rule for marriage equality, arguing against local ordinances against LGBT discrimination and supporting widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy.
Huckabee made a case against transgender rights during the 2013 Values Voter Summit when he urged conservatives to oppose a California law protecting transgender students against discrimination.
“So, Jerry Brown, the governor of California, this week signed a bill — by the same legislature that passed a bill that said if six-year-olds, who are biologically boys think that they are really girls, that they should be able to go to the girls restroom,” Huckabee said at the time. “And if they’re 16 and they really — maybe you’re biologically all male but they identify as female, they should be able to go to the locker room with, shower with, and play on the sports teams of the girls. And, to those of us who believe that there is a difference between male and female, we would say ‘We have been told you’re on your own.’”.
Huckabee concluded his tirade against the law by saying, “Is that not the craziest think you’ve ever heard?”
JoDee Winterhof, vice president for policy and political affairs for the Human Rights Campaign, said despite the name of the town in which Huckabee has announced his candidacy, there’s nothing hopeful about his campaign.
“There’s nothing hopeful about opposing marriage equality, and no matter what city Mike Huckabee launches his campaign in, he can’t erase his long history of hateful rhetoric, like comparing being LGBT to alcohol abuse,” Winterhof said. “If Mike Huckabee bases another campaign on his opposition to marriage equality, he is going to find out that his hateful rhetoric has left him isolated in a country where more than 6 in 10 voters support marriage equality and nearly half the country knows an LGBT couple that has gotten married or is in a committed relationship.”
Huckabee joins an ever growing field of candidates who have declared their ambitions to seek Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election. Also in the race is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), conservative commentator Ben Carson and former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina.
It’ll be Huckabee’s second time running for president. The former Arkansas governor first pursued a bid for the White House in 2008 and took six states in the Republican primary, but ultimately lost his bid for the nomination to John McCain.
Unlike other candidates for president, Huckabee articulated specific policy items in his campaign announcement, including enacting term limits for all three branches of government, ending trade deals that unfairly impact American workers, making abortion illegal, enacting a balanced budget and abolishing the Internal Revenue Service.
Gregory Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, said he looks forward to seeing the extent to which Huckabee’s campaign impacts the 2016 presidential race.
“Gov. Huckabee’s entrance into the GOP presidential primary presents an enormous opportunity — an opportunity to splinter the far right evangelical vote,” Angelo said. “It will be interesting to see how Huckabee polls now that he is essentially vying for the same core vote as Sen. Ted Cruz and, to a lesser extent, Dr. Ben Carson.”
Invoking the memory of his deceased father, whom he said died four months before he became governor of Arkansas, Huckabee said the path forward for him to the White House is possible through help from his supporters and divine intervention.
“I hope that he’s able to watch in 2017 when that bashful little kid from the orange-brick renthouse on Second Street is sworn as the 45th president of the United States, and with your help and God’s, we will make that journey from hope to higher ground,” Huckabee said.