From Disgust to Mike Huckabee.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is under fire for comments he made to The New Yorker magazine about same-sex marriage:

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.

Faced with criticism from gay-rights groups, Huckabee clarified.

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.

I don’t see how Huckabee could be doing anything other than referencing an aversion to gay sex. It is in fact common for conservatives -- in the absence of rational argument -- to focus on the intricate mechanics of gay sex in explaining and justifying their opposition to gay rights. 

The phrase "ick factor" was certainly not invented by gay people. But it has been used among some movement thinkers precisely to refer to the disgust some people feel toward gay sex. The "advocate and militant" Huckabee mentions in defending himself, University of Chicago philosopher Martha Nussbaum, has written a whole book on why disgust toward unpopular minorities -- gay men and gay sex in particular -- is not a suitable basis for law (you can read the Prospect's review of Nussbaum's From Disgust to Humanity here). 

It's pretty clear what Huckabee meant, and his juvenile preoccupation with how gay people have sex would be funny if it weren't so pernicious.

-- Gabriel Arana

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