By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com July 04 2003 12:00 AM ET
Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a Baptist preacher, says the nation's high court was probably right to strike down sodomy laws but says states still should be able to restrict things such as same-sex marriage or domestic-partner benefits. Huckabee said Wednesday that government should stay out of the private lives of gay and lesbian people unless their behavior involves public policy. "What people do in the privacy of their own lives as adults is their business," said Huckabee, a favorite of Christian conservatives and a former president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. "If they bring it into the
public square and ask me as a taxpayer to support it or to endorse it, then it becomes a matter of public discussion and discourse." Huckabee's comments came in response to a caller to his monthly statewide
radio call-in show. He said the ruling appears to be the appropriate one because of the difficulty of enforcing laws regulating private behavior as well as the policy questions involved.
Arkansas's supreme court struck down the state's sodomy law last year, saying it was an unconstitutional invasion of privacy to "enforce a majority morality on persons whose conduct does not harm others." Still, the governor said that states should retain certain rights to set moral standards in public policy. "Government certainly has a responsibility and a right to say [that] if you bring it into the public square and ask for same-sex marriage or survivor benefits to be paid to a same-sex partner, we have a right to say no to that," he said.
Rita Sklar, director of the Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said Huckabee's acceptance of the sanctity of private gay sex is irrelevant now that the court decision is the law of the land. "It would have been nice to hear that a couple of years ago when we were trying to strike down the state sodomy law," Sklar said. "And while that ruling was important, what is more important is that in every other aspect of life, they will be able to participate without discrimination."