Outspoken conservative Mike Huckabee quickly quits country music board


New York (AFP)

Outspoken US conservative Mike Huckabee has resigned from a prominent country music group just one day after his appointment as his views on gay rights triggered opposition.

The former Arkansas governor, whose daughter Sarah Sanders is White House press secretary for President Donald Trump, accused his critics of "hate" as he quit the Country Music Association Foundation's board.

The group supports music education as the charitable arm of the Nashville-based association, a trade group best known for producing an annual country music awards gala.

"If the industry doesn't want people of faith or who hold conservative and traditional political views to buy tickets and music, they should be forthcoming and say it," Huckabee said in a resignation letter posted on his website Friday.

"Surely neither the artists or the business people of the industry want that," he said.

The US entertainment industry leans overwhelmingly to the left but Huckabee's short-lived tenure may show a changing tide even in country music.

Long associated with white audiences in the South, country music has walked a tightrope on Trump with few stars openly embracing the controversial president.

A two-time presidential candidate, Huckabee frequently speaks passionately about his Christian faith and his opposition to gay rights, in the past equating same-sex marriage with accepting bestiality.

Nashville newspaper The Tennessean said that opponents of Huckabee's appointment included Jason Owen, whose firm manages stars including Little Big Town and Kacey Musgraves.

Owen, who is gay, told country association officials that Huckabee's language "would suggest my family is morally beneath his" and "has a profoundly negative impact on young people all across the country," according to the newspaper.

Outside of politics, Huckabee is known as a music fan who plays electric bass in a cover band called Capitol Offense.