Huckabee on Same-Sex Marriage: “What Law Is That, Mika?”

Mike Huckabee was on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday, talking again about the Kim Davis controversy. Red herrings and false equivalencies were abound from the “Morning Joe” crew, and at times, Joe Scarborough got personal about his past as a divorced man. Watch and read below:

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Governor, a busy day yesterday, a lot to talk to you about. Why were you in Kentucky?

MIKE HUCKABEE: Well, I had spoken to Kim Davis before she had the hearing in which the judge ordered her to jail. And after I had heard that she had been put in jail, I said, ‘This is crazy, this is unbelievable that she’s gonna be put in jail for this.’ So I immediately said, ‘Let’s go to Kentucky, let’s do a rally for her.’ And so we had people on the ground within 8 hours of that moment and organized a rally. Yesterday over 5,000 people were there, according to law enforcement, in a town of 3500 people. What we didn’t know was that Kim Davis would actually be freed yesterday, right at the time of the rally, which was somewhat providential, I would use the word.

SCARBOROUGH: One of the people at that rally was Ted Cruz. We’ve been enjoying watching clips of him this morning. It looked like your people blocked his way to the stage, or at least to even get out in the crowd. Do you know what happened there?

HUCKABEE: Well, he was welcome to get in the crowd and be there. We didn’t know he was coming until just the day before. Obviously we were delighted that he wanted to show up and show his support. I invited him to come back and visit with Kim Davis, which he did, but I’m not sure what the buzz is. We were getting ready to go do a statement to the press [with] Mat Staver, the attorney for Kim Davis, who’s head of the Liberty Counsel, and me, so it was as simple as that.

SCARBOROUGH: That buzz — he was trying to get somewhere and he kept getting blocked, but we’ll hear more about that later. So I’m just curious — still, obviously we disagree on constitutional grounds here. I want to ask you though biblically. What are the biblical grounds of somebody that works for Caesar, not rendering under Caesar that which is Caesar’s, which seems to be the verse that would apply the most, where of course Jesus is asked to pay taxes by the Romans and he says, ‘Render under Caesar that which is Caesar’s and render unto God that which is God’s,’ which seemed to clearly state that if you’re working for Caesar, you work for Caesar, but if you wanna preach for God, preach for God.

HUCKABEE: Well, there’s really no conflict in this case because Kim Davis was elected under a Caesar that was very explicitly clear. The Kentucky Constitution said, by 75% of the people, that marriage was one man, one woman. That’s the law she was elected under. That’s the law she served under. It’s the law she took an oath under. The Supreme Court, if you believe — and you and I do disagree on this — that the Court can make law — I think when you were in Congress you were a part of a body that could make law, I don’t think the court could. But that’s a whole different discussion. But let’s assume for a moment that the law has changed. The big question is, did the judge overreach and do exactly what I’ve been warning about, which is judicial tyranny, by putting this woman in jail rather than trying to figure out a way to give her some accommodation so that she didn’t have to affix her name to a marriage license to which she objected because of her Christian convictions?

SCARBOROUGH: And she’s willing to work other jobs that keeps her away from having to do that?

HUCKABEE: Well, why can’t she be the county clerk? Why can’t the licenses be issued under the name of the state? If the governor of the state is so determined to have same-sex marriage in a state where their people rejected it, and he wants to go against his own people and surrender to judicial tyranny, and say that the court is some body he has to completely obey; even if there is no legislation to really empower that, then he can make that happen. And he doesn’t even have to call a special session. I mean, once we’re in this place of every branch kind of doing what it wants to do, I guess the executive branch can do the same.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: I guess a lot of people sort of — I want to be very careful here, but Governor, you know, for example, Pope Francis just made some moves to forgive divorce about annulment recently in the news, and so from that angle, what if Kim Davis wanted to get a third or a fourth marriage license from someone who truly believes that you should only get married once? What would you say to that?

HUCKABEE: Well she’s actually been married four times —

BRZEZINSKI: That’s my point.

HUCKABEE: Yeah, and here’s the think, Mika, maybe what you don’t know is that she has been married four times; she’s a person who says, ‘I lived a very different life. I lived a life of sin.’ And four years ago Kim Davis came to Christ. She really had a powerful experience because her dying mother-in-law asked her to go to church. She did. She found forgiveness. And the reason that she is so steadfast and unwavering in her faith is because she knows what God’s grace means. She’s experienced it. And as a result, she says, ‘I can’t ever go back and live that life again, and the God who forgave me compels me to follow my faith.’

BRZEZINSKI: But that’s not the answer, that’s not the answer to —

SCARBOROUGH: But Governor, again, I certainly don’t want to get into a theological debate with a preacher.

HUCKABEE: Aw, come on. Let’s do it.

SCARBOROUGH: But I spent enough time in a Southern Baptist church to know most of the red letters in the Gospels. And you and I both know — and I say this as a divorced man — Jesus focused a lot more on divorce, focused a lot more on lust, focused a lot more on the poor, focused a lot more on clothing the naked, visiting the people in jail, taking care of the hopeless, than he did on homosexuality. In fact, he never mentioned homosexuality. So I think to Mika’s point, do we really want people of positions of authority saying — because you can read the text of the Gospel, and what Jesus Christ said, and there’s a lot more condemnation for people like myself who have been divorced than there is condemnation for people that participate in the gay lifestyle.

HUCKABEE: Well let me challenge the idea that he never spoke about marriage, because he did. First of all —

SCARBOROUGH: No, no, no, no, not marriage, not marriage, he spoke a lot about marriage.

HUCKABEE: Joe, homosexual marriage was not an issue in the first century. There was no push for same-sex marriage when Jesus was teaching. But what he did say was that a man shall leave his father and mother and a woman shall leave her home and the two shall become one flesh. He explicitly outlined what marriage is. So when people say ‘Jesus never talked about same-sex marriage,’ he did by virtue of talking about what marriage is.

SCARBOROUGH: But again, Jesus was much more explicit about divorce, and you can much more easily make an argument that a judge who refused to grant divorces, because Jesus was far more explicit about divorce equaling adultery.

HUCKABEE: And I think it’s interesting —

SCARBOROUGH: So what would you think if a judge in Arkansas said, ‘I’m not gonna divorce these people because Jesus Christ said that divorce is an abomination and it is adultery?

HUCKABEE: You know, a judge in Chattanooga in fact dismissed a divorce case before him because of the Supreme Court case. He said if the Supreme Court doesn’t think that the people of Tennessee are smart enough to define when marriage begins and what it is, then obviously the Supreme Court doesn’t think they’re smart enough to determine when one should end, so he dismissed it.

BRZEZINSKI: Okay, I don’t want to hear about that judge. Mike Huckabee, I don’t want to hear —

HUCKABEE: Why not?

BRZEZINSKI: Because Mike Huckabee, I asked you a question. Would you support a clerk who would not give Kim Davis a third or a fourth marriage license — you?

HUCKABEE: I’m not sure if I follow that question, Mika, because —

BRZEZINSKI: If a clerk says, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t think you should get married more than once or twice, and you’re asking for your third or your fourth license, and I don’t believe in giving –‘

HUCKABEE: You’re asking a question of a different nature.

BRZEZINSKI: No I’m not! No I’m not. I’m asking, would you support that clerk?

HUCKABEE: There’s a difference between a marriage between a man and a woman, and a marriage between two men or a marriage between two women. You’re not talking —

BRZEZINSKI: So you would support the clerk.

HUCKABEE: Let me answer your question.

BRZEZINSKI: I’d love it.

HUCKABEE: Okay. What we’re talking about is whether or not we can redefine marriage, not whether or not a person can have more than one, because the law clearly says what people can do. They can have a divorce, we have laws for that. We have laws for marriage and remarriage —

BRZEZINSKI: I think the law says you can get married now as a gay person. So if you’re following the law —

HUCKABEE: What law is that Mika? Can you quote me the statute, can you quote me the specific statute, or can you tell me, and let me know what article of the Constitution that says that same-sex marriage is under the jurisdiction of the federal government?

SCARBOROUGH: Well, it’s a Supreme Court decision. We’ve had this same conversation.

HUCKABEE: Exactly. We had that conversation last week.

SCARBOROUGH: We’ve had it with Roe v. Wade, but I think we have —

HUCKABEE: But it requires, Joe, it requires agreement on the part of the other branches of government. You can’t have just one branch or you’d have tyranny!

SCARBOROUGH: So let me ask you this — this might clear things up, because yesterday I saw a lot of crosses in the crowd, I heard a lot of people talking about Jesus, and we’re talking to you this morning, and I think you would agree with me — for Jesus, if you read the New Testament and you believe that the New Testament is the literal Word of God, then you will agree with me that Jesus Christ looks upon those who divorce, upon those who lust after women or men, equally as lost as people who engage — let’s say, people who get married and are of the same sex. Would you agree with that proposition under Jesus’s teaching, and then I’ll get to the second question.

HUCKABEE: Okay. What I would agree with is whatever sins we commit — and we all commit them — me, you, we all commit them — the message of the Gospel is not to delineate the sins we commit. It’s to emphasize the grace of God to forgive those sins and to cleanse us from them. Yes, we commit sin. And whether it’s the sin of divorce or failing to live up to the covenant of our marriage; whether it’s the sin of thinking evil about other people or thinking evil about other people – there’s not another person watching us today who is not a sinner. Not a person. The message is whether or not there’s forgiveness.

SCARBOROUGH: All have fallen short of the glory of God.

HUCKABEE: Yes.

SCARBOROUGH: So my question to you is, are you here this morning, were you here yesterday, were you in Kentucky yesterday talking about your faith, and you were there because of your faith, or were you there because you think this is a constitutional abomination?

HUCKABEE: I believe it’s a constitutional abomination, but because of my faith, I believe that I have a responsibility to stand with those who are being persecuted not only for their faith, but for following the law, and especially those who are being beaten up by the heavy hand of the judicial branch and put in jail for doing what they believe is right —

SCARBOROUGH: Then you certainly understand that another presidential candidate, using your logic, could stand with a clerk that refused to grant a heterosexual couple their second marriage license because the word of Christ is quite clear when it comes to divorce., that it is against God’s perfect will.

HUCKABEE: Well, the word of the law is quite clear, Joe —

[Crosstalk]

SCARBOROUGH: I guess what I’m saying is, let’s keep our faith out of this. If it’s about the law, if it’s about Caesar, then let’s debate Caesar, but let’s not mix up Caesar and Jesus. It’s two completely different things!

HUCKABEE: Okay, then let’s take your position Joe. If the people’s elected representatives in Congress — if they want to come out from their cowardice to address this issue — if they want to pass a law that says same-sex marriage is okay, and the president signs it, then you know what? Then we all have to accept that same-sex marriage is the law of the land. And the same thing would be true in Kentucky. I accept that. I won’t like it, but I would accept that maybe I would disobey it, maybe I would pay the penalty for it, but that’s not we’re talking about. What we’re talking about is, does the court, one branch of government opposed and different from the other two, get to impose that without the actions of the legislature?

JOHN HEILEMANN: Let me offer an analogy, an analogous question. If there were a Muslim court clerk who decided that because [the] Islamic faith says that a non-Muslim can’t marry a Muslim – if that clerk denied a marriage license on that basis, invoked his or her religious conscience, and was put in jail for then being in contempt of court, would you have behaved the same way? Would you have gone down and stood with that person on the same grounds?

HUCKABEE: If I’m understanding, John, what you’re saying is, if the law specifically allowed people of different faiths, if it was a Muslim and a Christian or a Muslim and a Jew, whoever it is, if the law specifically allowed for that and didn’t disallow it, then yes, that person should have to provide that marriage license. But the point is, if that hadn’t been legislated; if it had never been codified into law — we’re a people of law, not of politics. When the courts become political, and the courts become the super-legislative body, which is what has happened here — that is a dangerous path on which we’re going to lose this great Republic. And you guys want to pick out some obscure hypothetical. I’m talking about the reality of when the courts venture into the territory Jefferson, Jackson, Hamilton, Lincoln all warned about, and that is it becoming its own body of law separate from the other two branches of government, that is dangerous to the future of the Republic, and it is something to which we should absolutely resist.

Thomas Valentine is a researcher for APIA and a junior at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.