Mike Huckabee, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012, says the effort to allow gays and lesbians to marry is comparable to legalizing incest, polygamy and drug use.
Huckabee also told college journalists last week that gay couples should not be permitted to adopt. "Children are not puppies," he said.
Huckabee visited The College of New Jersey in Ewing, N.J., last Wednesday to speak to the Student Government Association. He also was interviewed by a campus news magazine, The Perspective, which published an article on Friday.
Huckabee told the interviewer that not every group's interests deserve to be accommodated, if their lifestyle is outside of what he called "the ideal."
"That would be like saying, well there's there are a lot of people who like to use drugs so let's go ahead and accommodate those who want to use drugs. There are some people who believe in incest, so we should accommodate them. There are people who believe in polygamy, should we accommodate them?" he said, according to a transcript of the interview.
The 2008 presidential hopeful and former Arkansas governor also said that deciding which lifestyles should be accommodated and which ones should not creates a slippery slope.
"Why do you get to choose that two men are OK but one man and three women aren't OK?" he asked.
Huckabee added that his goal isn't to tell others how to live, but that the burden of proving that a gay marriage can be successful rests with the activists in favor of changing the law.
"I don't have to prove that marriage is a man and a woman in a relationship for life," he said. "They have to prove that two men can have an equally definable relationship called marriage, and somehow that that can mean the same thing."
Since the magazine published the interview, Huckabee's remarks have attracted considerable attention on the Web.
In a statement Tuesday, Huckabee said that while he believes what people do in their private lives is their business, "I do not believe we should change the traditional definition of marriage." He also said he thought the college magazine was sensationalizing his "well-known and hardly unusual views of same-sex marriage."
In response to a 1992 questionnaire from The Associated Press, Huckabee, then a Senate candidate in Arkansas, spelled out his opposition to homosexuality, saying it was crucial that the country not "legitimize immorality."
"I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle," he wrote, in response to a question about gays in the military.
He also advocated isolating AIDS patients from the general public, saying it was necessary to confine "carriers of this plague."
As governor, Huckabee supported an Arkansas policy that prevented same-sex couples from serving as foster parents. On gay marriage, he said in an interview, "Marriage has historically never meant anything other than a man and a woman. It has never meant two men, two women, a man and his pet, or a man and a whole herd of pets."