A Jewish organization in Canada has canceled a speech that was slated to be delivered by 2016 Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee after critics claimed that he "spread degrading hatefulness towards and about transgender people."
Huckabee was scheduled to appear at an October 15 dinner for the Jewish National Fund of Canada in Ottawa, but the organization decided on June 10 to cancel his appearance, according to the Jewish Journal.
A petition posted to Change.org attracted only 31 supporters, though its organizers are claiming "victory" following the announcement that Huckabee has been removed from the event roster.
"The lives of transgender Canadians are filled with many challenges. Studies of those living in Ottawa show high rates of depression, suicide ... and social isolation caused in part by rejection by family and friends," the petition read. "This is a segment of our community that needs your support, not the appearance of yet further rejection and abuse, as clearly promoted by your announced speaker, Mr. Huckabee."
2016 GOP presidential contender and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
The presidential candidate referred to the transgender dynamic as a "social experiment" earlier this year and made comments as well as a joke that have offended some in the LBGTQ community, TheBlaze previously reported.
“Now I wish that someone told me that when I was in high school that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in PE,” he said. “I’m pretty sure that I would have found my feminine side and said, ‘Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today.’ You’re laughing because it sounds so ridiculous, doesn’t it?”
Huckabee continued: “And yet today we are the ones who are ridiculed and scorned because we point out the obvious. That there’s something inherently wrong about forcing little children to be a part of this social experiment. I’m not against anybody. I’d just like for somebody to bring their brain to work some day and not leave it on the bedstand when they show up to govern.”
In addition to lambasting Huckabee for his past comments about transgender issues, the petition also took aim at his support for the Duggar family and, in particular, Josh Duggar, the TLC reality TV star who recently admitted to "improperly touching" numerous girls, including four of his sisters, more than a decade ago.
Jewish National Fund CEO Josh Cooper told the Canadian Jewish News this week that the petition didn't impact his organization's decision, though he did admit that the focus of Huckabee's comments of late played a role.
Watch Huckabee's remarks around the 19:00 mark below:
While Huckabee was initially invited to address the Negev Dinner — an effort to raise support for autism research in Israel — due to his favorable views of the Jewish state, Cooper said that "the media spotlight has recently focused on Mr. Huckabee’s comments about issues that bear no relevance to JNF or autism."
The Jewish National Fund will soon announce a replacement speaker for the event.
(H/T: Jewish Journal)