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Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who sparked outrage this week with comments about an "ick factor" of same-sex marriage in a profile by The New Yorker, is defending his choice of words by invoking academia. The potential 2012 presidential candidate tried to distinguish the "ick factor," which he called an "established phrase," from the more judgmental word "icky," and said that bright minds like philosopher Martha Nussbaum used the phrase first in conjunction with LGBT people.
In the profile by Ariel Levy in The New Yorker, Huckabee explained his opposition to marriage equality by saying, "I do believe that God created male and female and intended for marriage to be the relationship of the two opposite sexes. Male and female are biologically compatible to have a relationship. We can get into the 'ick factor,' but the fact is two men in a relationship, two women in a relationship, biologically, that doesn't work the same."
Huckabee defended his use of the phrase against widespread criticism in a statement Wednesday to Politico.
"Never once did I say 'icky,' as many blogs and less than credible news organizations have reported,'" he said.
According to Politico, Huckabee continued, "Former colleague of then Professor Obama from the University of Chicago's Law School, Dr. Martha Nussbaum, has often made reference to the 'ick factor' in her professional writings and is credited with applying the phrase to the GLBT community. This phrase is not new. This phrase is not mine. More over, the phrase 'ick factor' was used as early as the late 1990's and was just the subject of an entire article written on April 12 of this year -- by Joseph Erbentraut -- and he even put 'Ick Factor' in the title."
Huckabee refused to apologize for his use of the phrase.
Nussbaum, a University of Chicago professor, explores how physical revulsion drives opponents of same-sex marriage in her new book, From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation & Constitutional Law.