Republicans Might Lose Mike Huckabee If They Don't Fight Same-Sex Marriage

Abortion is a deal breaker, too.
Photograph by Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Former Arkansas governor and 2008 Republican also-ran Mike Huckabee has an ultimatum for his party: Push back on same-sex marriage or he's gone. During the American Family Association's Tuesday morning broadcast, Huckabee vented his frustration with the GOP's mild response to the Supreme Court's decision not to rule on same-sex marriage this term.

“If the the Republicans want to lose guys like me and a whole bunch of still God-fearing, Bible-believing people, go ahead and just abdicate on this issue and while you're at it, go ahead and say abortion doesn't matter either,” he said. “At that point, you lose me. I'll become an independent. I'll start finding people that have guts to stand.”

Huckabee is certainly challenging Senator Ted Cruz for issuing the most extreme response to the court's decision. Court news. As Brian Beutler at The New Republic argued, the “scariest reaction” wasn't Cruz, who promised to introduce a constitutional amendment that would prevent federal courts or government from voiding state laws on marriage, but from Huckabee, who implied that states should just ignore the Supreme Court.

“It is shocking that many elected officials, attorneys, and judges think that a court ruling is the ‘final word.’ It most certainly is not,” Huckabee wrote in a statement on his website. “It remains the court's opinion. It is NOT the 'law of the land' as is often heralded. The courts can't make law. They can interpret it and even rule that a law is unconstitutional, but they have no power to create it or enforce it.” During a Tuesday interview with Iowa talk show host Steve Deace, Huckabee went further and speculated about what would have happened if the legislative and executive branches hadn't enforced the court's ruling in Roe v. Wade.

The uniting theme of his remarks has been that conservatives shouldn't accept defeat, the way Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has. They also shouldn't keep quiet. Huckabee argued that a lot of people on the “left coast” and the “bubbles of New York and Washington” are convinced that if Republicans “don't capitulate on the same-sex marriage issue ... then we're going to be losers.”  He insists the opposite is true, and if Republicans “continue in this direction, they guarantee they're going to lose every election in the future.”

The Republican Party would feel the loss of Huckabee — he's well respected by social conservatives and evangelicals, who helped him win the Iowa caucus in 2008 — but might not miss his political analysis. Put simply, Republicans don't want to get involved because they would like to win more elections in the future.

Here are the numbers to back that up: The younger a Republican is, the more likely they are to support same-sex marriage. According to a March Pew Research study 61 percent of Republicans between 18 and 29 years old support same-sex marriage, compared to 39 percent of Republicans overall. At this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, as Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed reported, “opponents of gay rights spoke to a nearly empty room, while supporters had a standing room-only crowd.” Republican judges, as well as a few representatives and senators, are getting on board with ending bans. And overall, polls show that Americans in general favor the legalization of same-sex marriage.

And so the Republican Party has to choose between popular sentiment or a former governor who lost the party's presidential primary six years ago. There's a reason ultimatums rarely work out.

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