Mike Huckabee has been under fire lately for using the phrase “ick factor” in discussing his opposition to same-sex marriage.

He’s apparently received enough fire that he has taken pains to say that he did NOT use the word “icky.” Oh. And he has defended his comment that you could discuss the “ick factor” in discussing same-sex marriage, though on that occasion he did not.


The former governor said that “my use of the phrase ‘ick factor’ was as the established notion from within the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Transgender (GLBT) community. It was not an indication of personal aversion, but rather a reference to an established phrase used mostly from same-sex marriage advocates and militants — not one I created.”

“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,” he continued. “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.”

After explaining where he says he acquired the phrase, the former governor said that he would not be apologizing to the gay groups.

It is parsing worthy of another former Arkansas governor. It is also not the point. The point is that Huckabee has spoken consistently and relentlessly and in the most disparaging terms about the quest of LGBT people for equality under the law. Such as when he said same-sex marriage shouldn’t be allowed because children are not puppies. Such as when he suggested quarantine for AIDS sufferers. Such as when he compared homosexuality to drug addiction. Such as when he said gay people were “disingenuous.” If he holds no personal aversion to gay people — and indeed has had friends and employees who are gay, as he claims — he has certainly chosen a funny way to demonstrate his acceptance of them.

For the record: Huckabee’s parsing isn’t getting a good review. Here’s one takedown.