Former Arkansas governor and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee issued a warning to Republican leaders that if they abandon long-held positions against same-sex marriage and abortion to appeal to moderate voters, then he would become an independent.
After the Supreme Court decided Monday that it will not hear appeals from states where lower courts ruled against same-sex marriage bans, Huckabee told the American Family Association's "Today's Issues" radio program that if the establishment Republicans surrender their stance on same-sex marriage and adapt to the modern pro-gay political climate, then he and others would leave the party.
"I am utterly exasperated with Republicans and the so-called leadership of the Republicans, who have abdicated on this issue," Huckabee said. "If the Republicans want to lose guys like me and a whole bunch of still God-fearing and Bible-believing people just go ahead and abdicate on this issue. And while you are at it, go ahead and say abortion doesn't matter either because at that point you lose me."
Huckabee added that he would have no issue in becoming an independent.
"I'll become an independent and I'll start finding people that have guts to stand," he said. "I am tired of this."
Huckabee criticized the establishment Republicans and GOP leadership for expressing the notion that if the party does not change its stance on gay-marriage then it will have no chance at winning future elections.
A Gallup poll from May found that 55 percent of Americans believe that same-sex couples should have the same marriage benefits as traditional couples, while a New York Times poll found that 40 percent of all Republicans and 56 percent Republicans under the age of 45 support same-sex marriages.
Huckabee argued, though, that if the GOP abdicates its stance, it will drive away social conservatives and only guarantee losses for the party in future elections.
"If they continue this direction, they guarantee they are going to lose every election in the future. Guarantee it," Huckabee said. "And, I don't understand why they want to lose because a lot of Republicans, particularly those that live on the left coast or those who live up in the bubbles of New York and Washington are convinced that if we don't capitulate on the same-sex marriage issue, and if we don't raise the white flag of surrender and just except the inevitable, then we are going to be losers. I tell you, it is the absolute opposite of that."
In recent months, a group of conservatives who favor same-sex marriage called Young Conservatives for Freedom to Marry have lobbied Republican politicians in hopes of getting them to accept same-sex marriage, or at the very least get them to admit that it is "a valid point of view."
The group's campaign is also funding grassroots efforts that have already been launched in key presidential election states such as New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina.
Although not all GOP politicians are reforming their stance on same-sex marriage, many Republican candidates are focusing on the economy and foreign policy while avoiding talking about their conservative stance on social issues.
At the socially conservative Values Voters Summit sponsored by the Family Research Council in late September, many of the politicians invited did not mention same-sex marriage in their speeches. Although Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who is widely known for opposing same-sex marriage, offered in her speech that same-sex marriage is "not an issue any more."
"In fact, it's boring," Bachmann added.
At the summit, Huckabee urged that if more social conservatives got out to vote then their voices and conservative opinions on social issues would be better represented. He added that if 10 percent more evangelicals had voted in the last election then Barack Obama would not have become president.
"Imagine what would happen if the people of faith, the value voters of America, the evangelicals, the pro-life and pro-family Catholics and Protestants from all over this country would let it be known: we are registered and we will show up," Huckabee said. "We will hire people, and we will fire people who should have been fired a long time ago."
Currently, the national Republican Party position on same-sex marriage states "we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman, must be upheld as the national standard."