Former Arkansas governor and possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee made controversial remarks about homosexuality and same-sex marriage on Sunday, drawing comparisons to drinking and swearing.
The winner of the 2008 Iowa caucuses talked with CNN on the show "State of the Union." He made the comments while talking with CNN reporter Dana Bash, referring to an excerpt of his new book where he states that he has gay friends and associates.
"People can be my friends who have lifestyles that are not necessarily my lifestyle," said Huckabee, who is weighing a second run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. "I don't shut people out of my circle or out of my life because they have a different point of view."
Huckabee then elaborated on his point of view. According to CNN, the former Baptist pastor deflected a question about whether or not being gay is a choice in his opinion.
"I don't drink alcohol, but gosh -- a lot of my friends, maybe most of them, do," Huckabee said. "You know, I don't use profanity, but believe me, I've got a lot of friends who do. Some people really like classical music and ballet and opera -- it's not my cup of tea."
According to Laura Bassett of the Huffington Post, the former governor reiterated on Sunday that he wanted to run for the Republican presidential nomination, cracking a joke that his ideal scenario would include a clear path to winning it after all GOP candidates dropped out. He also stated that he shared similar views with President Barack Obama, when they both ran for the office back in 2008.
"Obama had the same position I had when he spoke about it in 2008, and for the same reason," Huckabee said. "He said it was because he was a Christian and because God is in the mix."
Bassett reported that Obama's views on same-sex marriage have evolved since then, expressing his support for it in 2012. However, Huckabee still stood firm in his opposition to this issue.
"This is not just a political issue. It is a biblical issue," Huckabee argued. "And as a biblical issue -- unless I get a new version of the scriptures, it's really not my place to say, OK, I'm just going to evolve."
The former governor then provided some examples to reinforce his stance to CNN.
"It's like asking someone who's Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli. We don't want to do that -- I mean, we're not going to do that," Huckabee said. "Or like asking a Muslim to serve up something that is offensive to him, or to have dogs in his backyard."
Huckabee added that while the United States is "sensitive to make sure we don't offend certain religions," he said that "we act like Christians can't have the convictions that they've had for 2,000 years."
He also expressed to CNN that he supported legislation that would protect businesses from discrimination claims for adhering to the religious views of the owners. Some conservatives have backed that concept on the national and state levels.
"I'd like to think that there's room in America for people who have different points of view without screaming and shouting and wanting to shut their businesses down," he said. "What worries me in this new environment we're in, it's not just that someone might disagree, they don't want to argue with me, even take a different point of view. They want to close someone's business down."
Unlike Huckabee, the Republican Party itself is split on this issue. A March 2014 survey from Pew Research Center indicated that only 27 percent of Republicans ages 50 and over supported same-sex marriage, while 61 percent of Republicans under 30 years old favored the practice.