Mike Huckabee on Martin Luther King Jr.: "I wish he were here today" to join me in discriminating against LGBTQ people

Huckabee quoted Dr. King's "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" to argue the icon would oppose LGBTQ rights

By Katie McDonough
Published June 20, 2014 2:32PM (EDT)
  (AP/Keith Srakocic)
(AP/Keith Srakocic)

Speaking on Thursday at the conservative March for Marriage in Washington, D.C., Mike Huckabee said that there was “no basis in the law” that empowered judges to strike down state bans on equal marriage; the former governor of Arkansas also urged anti-LGBTQ activists to engage in mass civil disobedience to defy equal rights rulings. Huckabee then quoted civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" to justify anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

“Nothing threatens your personal liberty more than the notion that you would bow your knee to the court system apart from the ultimate rule of the Constitution,” Huckabee told the crowd. “And all of the branches of government, all of which are not there to tell you what you cannot do, but to guarantee the freedoms that you are always empowered to have.

“We are under an obligation to obey God and the law, and if necessary, to defy an institution that is out of control,” he continued.

He then quoted King's letter at length. Here is the excerpt Huckabee read:

“One may well ask, "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: there are just laws, and there are unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "An unjust law is no law at all.”

We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. But I am sure that if I had lived in Germany during that time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal.

Huckabee told the crowd he wished he had "penned those words," then expressed regret that King was not alive today to join him in his opposition to equal rights for LGBTQ people.

“I wish [King] were here today to say in the people in the building this one, Mr. Supreme Court justices, Madam Supreme Court justices, your role is only to interpret the law, to make sure that it somehow meshes with the Constitution, not that it messes with the Constitution,” Huckabee concluded.

As David Edwards at Raw Story notes, author, activist and civil rights leader Coretta Scott King, Dr. King's widow, has said that her husband would have been an advocate for LGBTQ rights.

“Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation is surely a fundamental human right in any great democracy, as much as freedom from racial, religious, gender, or ethnic discrimination,” she said in 2000.

Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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