The following is a transcript of an interview with Governor Mike Huckabee from The Daily Show, which aired on December 9, 2009.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Tuesday, 9 December)
Jon Stewart: We're talking with Governor Mike Huckabee. His book is "Do The Right Thing".
We talked a little bit about fiscal conservatism in the first one - I want to talk to you about social conservatism, 'cause this is really about you wanting the Republican Party to get back to those basics and respectfully speaking, the one thing I guess I don't understand about social conservatives. I get pro life and I think that's probably their number one issue and it's very easy for me to understand it and it's very easy for me to understand that we all should work together to reduce the number, at the very least, with the goal of ending that.
The gay marriage issue and why conservatives are against it- you write that marriage is the bedrock of our society. Why would you not want more couples to buy into the stability of marriage - why would you want that precluded for an entire group of people?
Governor Huckabee: Well, marriage still means one man one woman, life relationship. I think people have a right to live any way they want to. But even anatomically- let's face it, the only way that we can create the next generation is through a male female relationship. For 5000 years of recorded human history, that's what marriage has meant. 30 states have had it on the ballot and in all 30 states, it's passed- even in states like California, that nobody would suggest are social conservatives, leading the state of California.
Stewart: 30 states had Mike Huckabee on the ballot and they went with McCain- listen, you can't trust the voters! The voters don't know!
Huckabee: But the point being, in those states, Jon, an average of 68% of the voters across America have affirmed traditional marriage- it's not that they have tried to say they're gonna ban something, as much as they're gonna affirm what has always been.
Stewart: California did ban it, in essense they said you can't get married.
Huckabee: Actually, they have reaffirmed what they had done before.
Stewart: But people got married in the interim and- then they went back and said you're not- I guess my question is. You said, reaffirming the tradition of marriage over 5000 years, which takes it back to the Old Testament, where polygamy was the norm, not a heterosexual marriage between two couple that choose each other.
Marriage has evolved greatly over those 5000 years, from a property arrangement, polygamy... we've redefined it constantly. It used to be that people of different races could not marry.
It strikes me as very convenient, to go back to the Bible and say, "Hey, man... we gotta look at the way they define marriage..." Why don't we look at the way they did slavery, in the Bible?
Huckabee: But if we change the definition, then we really do have to change it to accomodate all lifestyles. We have to say to the guy in West Texas, who had 27 wives, that's okay. And I'm not sure that I hear alot of people arguing that that's a great idea.
Stewart: I don't know why polygamy has an issue here. It seems like a fundamental human right. You write in your book that all people are created equal, and yet, for gay people, you belive it is corrosive to society to allow them to have the privledges that all humans enjoy.
Huckabee: Well, there is a difference between the equality of each individual and the equality of what we do and the sameness of what we do. I mean, the fact is, marriage is under our law a privilege; it's not an absolute defined right.
Stewart: So what if we make it that Hispanics can't vote?
Huckabee: Well, I don't think that's a really good idea. I'm not sure that we should do that.
Stewart: So why can't gay people get married?
Huckabee: Well, because marriage still means a male and a female relationship. And until the laws are overturned, it still means that.
Stewart: I disagree. I think, you know... segregation used to be the law until the courts intervened.
Huckabee: There is a big difference between a person being black, and a person practicing a lifestyle and engaging in a marital relationship that-
Stewart: Okay. This is helpful. This gets to the crux of it- I think it's the difference of between what you believe gay people are and what I do. And I live in New York City, so I'm just gonna make a suppostition that I have more experience being around them.
And I'll tell you this. Religion is far more of a choice than homosexuality. And the protections that we have, for religion- we protect religion- and talk about a lifestyle choice! That is absolutely a choice. Gay people don't choose to be gay.
At what age did you choose not to be gay?
Huckabee: But Jon, religious people don't have the right to burn others at the stake; they don't have the right to do anything they wish to do.
Stewart: You're not being asked to marry a guy. They're asking to marry the person they love.
Huckabee: But they're asking to redefine the word. And frankly, we're probably not going to come to terms. But if the American people are not convinced that we should overturn the definition of marriage, then I would say that those who support the idea of same sex marriage have got alot of work to do, to convince the rest of us, and as I said, 68% of the American population has made that decision.
Stewart: You talk about the pro life movement being one of the great shames of our nation. I think, if you want number two, I think it's, I think it's that. It's an absolute- it's a travesty that people have forced, someone who is gay, to have to make their case- that they deserve the same basic rights.
Huckabee: Jon, excuse me, I respect you and I disagree with that- I really do- and one of the things that I want to make sure that people understand is that if a person does not necessarily support the idea of changing the definition of marriage, it does not mean that they are a homophobe. It does not mean that they are filled with hate and animosity.
Stewart: I was in no way suggesting.
Huckabee: No no, you were not saying that, but I think some people would like to throw the epithets at some people, whether they're like me, or someone else.
Stewart: But it does beg the question, I have to say, and again... is "WHY?"
You know, you keep talking about, jeez, it would be redefining a word... and it feels like semantics is cold comfort, when it comes to humanity and especially someone such as yourself, who is I believe an empathetic person who is someone who seeks to get to the heart of problems, this idea that, "Jeez, I dunno Jon, definitions and society..." I mean, marriage was not even a sacrament until the 1200s.
Huckabee: Words do matter. Definitions matter. And I think that we have to be very thoughtful and careful before we say that we are going to undo an entire social structure. I mean, let's face it, the basic purpose of a marriage is not just to create the next generation but to train our replacements. And it is in the context of 23 male and 23 female chromosomes coming together at the point of conception to create the next human life.
Stewart: I think you are looking at sexuality and not attributes, and it's odd because the conservative mantra is "Ameritocracy", and I think what you are suggesting is the fact that being gay parents makes you not as good as others and i would suggest that a gay, loving family with a financially stable background beats the hell out of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline any day of the week.
Huckabee: I'm not gonna defend Britney and Kevin, for sure.
Stewart: But I appreciate you having the conversation and I just, uh, it's just, it's just wild.
Huckabee: Well, Jon, I just want you to know I'm not going to marry you. Under any circumstances. I'm just not.
Stewart: (laughing) Fine, appreciate that. "Do The Right Thing", is on bookshelves now. Governor, thank you so much.
Huckabee: Thank you, Jon.
Have a good laugh.