Mike Huckabee’s Army of Anti-Gay Zealots

Mike Huckabee is disappointed in the “elitist” and “country club” Republican establishment after Karl Rove disparaged Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell (who knows, maybe she can pray away the turdblossom). This is nothing new for Huckabee; back in 2008, when he was running for president, he chastized his fellow Republicans for “read[ing] right off the Republican National Committee talking points” on the economy.

You’d think such talk would serve Huckabee well in the tea party era — after all, they’re mad at Wall Street and elitist politicians who don’t understand regular folk. (For a big “ahem” on the mythology of the tea party’s little people roots, read Adele Stan’s new piece, Tea Party, Inc.) But I digress. The real base of support for Huckabee, even if it’s coming from tea party loyalists, is from religious right activists within the tea party, who have long supported Huckabee’s “values.” But who are the activist leaders who help fan this grassroots support? Look at the latest anti-gay robocall in Michigan, and you’ll see a line straight from the American Family Association’s radical homophobia to Mike Huckabee.

In the robocall, reported by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post, the head of AFA’s Michigan affiliate, Gary Glenn, and its affiliated Campaign for Michigan Families, repeatedly describes his target, Democratic state legislative candidate Toni Sessoms, who is a lesbian, as being a tool of the “homosexual agenda” and a “homosexual activist.”

The Campaign for Michigan Families is the political arm of the AFA of Michigan, similar to another AFA effort in Iowa, where its Iowa for Freedom (headed by Huckabee’s 2008 Iowa state campaign chair, Bob Vander Plaats) is waging a campaign to oust state Supreme Court judges over their votes declaring the state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional. Vander Plaats’ campaign, as well as the AFA’s “hate-filled comments,” prompted a denunciation by the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa.

Earlier this year, back in Michigan, Glenn joined the AFA’s Bryan Fischer in calling for homosexuality to be criminalized. The former head of AFA’s California affiliate and an ally of Fischer’s, Scott Lively, is a purveyor of bogus claims that the Holocaust was perpetrated by gay people. He was one of the chief instigators of religiously-motivated violence and persecution of LGBT people in Uganda after he brought his “gay agenda” conference to Kampala in 2009.

Glenn, an early Huckabee supporter when Huckabee was lambasting Washington insiders for not getting behind his candidacy, was a “volunteer” for a get out the vote drive during the 2008 primary, which focused on targeting churches.

The following year, Huckabee provided a videotaped speech to Glenn’s group’s annual fundraiser, in which he called Glenn “a very special friend. . . one of the stalwart, key people who absolutely has not flinched or wavered in his commitment to pro-life and pro-family values.” He continued, “If we had leaders like Gary Glenn across America, our work wouldn’t be so hard. . . . [they] have been committed to maintaining a solid course for truth.” (Huckabee also recommended the movie Fireproof in the video; for the roots of that film, read Julie’s feature, out today, on a Christian dominionist film festival, where that film won an award.)

Don Wildmon, then the president of the American Family Association, was one of the only religious right leaders to offer an early endorsement of Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign, back when Huckabee was complaining about the others much like he is complaining about Rove now. Huckabee earned a spot as the only GOP presidential prospect to speak to Pastors’ Policy Briefings that Wildmon headlined in early primary states like Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida. At the Florida event, Huckabee suggested that America with secular governance was just like Nazi Germany. Huckabee had been participating in similar events since his days as Arkansas governor, but they really proved helpful to him in his presidential campaign. A video of the 2008 Iowa meeting was distributed to 5,000 churches in the state.

 

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, covers politics and religion. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The American ProspectThe NationSalon, and other publications. Follow her on TwitterRSS feed Email