Governor Mike Huckabee was in Iowa this past weekend, stumping for Republican legislative candidates, and trying to convince Iowa voters (who traditionally begin the presidential campaign season) that he would not be the worst candidate for President in 2008. As is typical whenever the Governor speaks out of state, he can’t come back until he has said something to embarrass or outrage a large percentage of his constituents at home. On this visit to Iowa, however, he went beyond the pale of even his typically insensitive and embarrassing off-the-cuff remarks. Much as the segregationists before him came to regret their hateful beliefs, I hope Governor Huckabee lives long enough to realize the shame of the hurtful comments he made in Iowa regarding homosexuals, foster parents and marriage rights.
In its ruling overturning the ban on gays and lesbians serving as foster parents, the State Supreme Court said not only had the state agency overstepped its jurisdiction by imposing the ban, but also, contrary to what Governor Huckabee says, that restricting gays and lesbians from serving as foster parents is not in the best interest of the children because the need for foster homes is so great, and, more compellingly, the state failed to show that children in foster care fare any better with heterosexual guardians or any worse with homosexual guardians.
Furthermore, the governor insulted the duty and compassion of the plaintiffs in the suit to overturn the ban on homosexual foster parents, saying they were more interested in “homosexual activism” than in the interests of the foster children. He said it was “troubling” that children would be used as “political tools.” Does the Governor believe that caring for orphaned and abused children is political activism whereas bad-mouthing homosexuals to curry votes is responsible civic and/or religious service?
More inflammatory still was the Governor’s comment that marriage has never historically meant “two men, two women, a man and his pet, or a man and a whole herd of pets.” First, the statement is not accurate. For “thousands of years,” as the Governor says, the rules of marriage were more often about the transfer of property and inheritance where women were given in marriage, along with livestock, land, and other material assets, as just another possession like chattel. Polygamy was and is an accepted practice only in cultures where women are valued less than men. And to compare the committed, monogamous, loving relationship between two men or two women to bestial rape is to be like one of the mob shouting “the n word” at the Little Rock Nine as they entered Central High in 1957. Words like that undo all Christian principles. They are “fighting words” yelled in a public space. And they place our Governor on the wrong side of decency, of liberty and of history.
Everyone knows at least one gay or lesbian person. It could be someone they work with, go to school with, go to church with, or is in their near or extended family. I would hope our Governor, before making such hateful, divisive, and inflammatory statements, would please think of a gay or lesbian person he knows and consider if he would make such a statement about him or her personally.
Finally, if the legislature is to pass a law stating that only married persons may care for foster children, might I suggest that such a law not go into effect until all married couples are, indeed, caring every child in need. Until then, any qualified, compassionate person who is willing to take care of foster children is requited to meet this urgent need.