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Yesterday IREHR reported that the Olympia, Washington-based Freedom Foundation was expanding its operations to the State of Ohio amidst a campaign against public sector unions. At the press conference announcing the move, Freedom Foundation Ohio Director Lindsey Queen repeated the group’s refrain that it is committed to “individual liberty, free enterprise [and] limited, accountable government.”

The Freedom Foundation’s favorite catchphrase makes all-the-more curious that the announced speaker for its November 9 Annual Oregon Dinner at the Salem Convention Center is a Christian Right politician with a long history of anti-LGBTQ bigotry and staunch opposition to basic civil rights for LGBTQ individuals – that is, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

Huckabee has made his antipathy toward the LGBTQ community crystal clear, declaring in an April 2019 interview with the Christian Post that

“The biggest threat to biblical principles today is the failure to apply a biblical standard of maleness and femaleness…I’m not really that surprised that same sex-marriage has become in vogue because the Christian Church were the ones who essentially abdicated a strict responsibility about what biblical marriage should look like.”[i]

Elsewhere Huckabee has expressed that same-sex relationships have an “ick factor” and compared same sex marriage to drug usage, polygamy and incest.[ii] In 2006, while governor, Huckabee expressed his hope that the Arkansas legislature would re-impose a ban on same-sex foster parenting that had been struck down by the state Supreme Court.[iii]

Former Arkansas Governor and Ongoing Anti-LGBTQ Bigot Mike Huckabee

In the face of a pending U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges – the June 2015 ruling that barred states from banning same-sex marriage – Mike Huckabee told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision, “I’m going to stand absolutely faithful to the issue of marriage…because I believe it is the right position.” Huckabee continued:

“One thing I am angry about… is this notion of judicial supremacy, where if the courts make a decision, 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. 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.[iv]

Hewitt next drew a parallel between potential defiance of a Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage and federal courts ordering Alabama Governor George Wallace to allow the 1965 Civil Rights march from Selma to Montgomery to take place. Hewitt stated that “George Wallace had to get out of the way,” asking Huckabee, “don’t we have to follow what the Supreme Court says immediately, or aren’t we in contempt of the federal Constitution as we understand the Supremacy Clause?”

Former Governor Huckabee doubled-down, implying the need for resistance to marriage equality akin to ongoing Christian nationalist resistance to reproductive rights:

“But if the legislation in that state, if the law in that state does not already have a mechanism to support same sex marriage, the legislation and only the legislature can create the law that says a marriage license can be given to two men or to two women. And I think there’s going to be immediate cases filed where a person will say well, I’d like to marry two women, or I’d like to marry two men for a woman. And who’s to stop that? It’s going to be a tricky thing, but you know, when people say the law is now the law of the land and it’s settled, well, 1973, the Court ruled on Roe V. Wade, and I think it’s anything but settled. And it’s anything but something that has ended because the courts made the ruling. I think it was a terrible ruling they made in 1973. And I hope this Court realizes that this is not a decision that should be made by the judicial branch. It should be made by the legislative branch, the representatives of the people.”

Mike Huckabee’s history is unequivocally one of opposing the basic civil rights of LGBTQ people.

In announcing Mike Huckabee’s appearance at their annual Oregon event, Freedom Foundation National Director Aaron Withe declared,

“We’re thrilled to host a speaker of Mike Huckabee’s accomplishments and reputation for this special night…The Freedom Foundation is a serious player on the national stage and its supporters are entitled to an event featuring a serious, accomplished national voice.”[v]

The question put to the Freedom Foundation is this:

How does praising, promoting and allying with an ardent opponent of civil rights fit the mission of an organization that claims to fight for “individual liberties;” or does this just not include the liberties of LGBTQ individuals and their attendant right to be treated equally under the law?

[i] Klett, Leah MarieAnn. Mike Huckabee identifies “biggest threat” to moral fiber of U.S., why it’s the Church’s fault. The Christian Post. April 5, 2019.

[ii] Levy, Ariel. Prodigal Son. The New Yorker. June 21, 2010.; Associated Press. Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee likens gay marriage to incest, polygamy. April 13, 2010.

[iii] Demillo, Andrew. Ark. Governor Seeks Gay Foster Parent Ban. Washington Post. July 1, 2006.

[iv] Hugh Hewitt. Mike Huckabee on 2016, The Supreme Court and Same Sex Marriage, and the War Against Radical Islam. January 20, 2015.


[v] Rhodes, Jeff. Huckabee to Headline Freedom Foundation’s Oregon Banquet. Freedom Foundation. August 2, 2019.

Chuck Tanner

Author Chuck Tanner

Chuck Tanner is an Advisory Board member and researcher for the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. He lives in Washington State where he researches and works to counter white nationalism and the anti-Indian and other far right social movements.

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