A former Baptist minister who wants the Republican party nomination for US President has been backed by one of the most influential evangelicals in America.

James Dobson from Focus on the Family is notorious for his homophobic views. His endorsement of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was announced yesterday.

Focus on the Family claims to be a non-partisan organisation that “nurtures and develops families.”

In reality it is opposed to same-sex parents, and has been accused of falsifying and distorting research to confirm their opinion that gay and lesbian families are deficient.

With the withdrawal of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney from the race yesterday, front runner John McCain looks almost certain to win the Republican nomination for President.

At present Arizona Senator McCain has won 12 states and 714 nominating delegates to Governor Huckabee’s 181, according to CNN.

To win the party nomination a candidate needs 1,191 delegates.

However, Governor Huckabee won the New Hampshire primary at the start of January and a further five states on Super Tuesday.

He has considerable appeal to evangelical and born-again Christians, especially in the South, who are wary of what they perceive to be Senator McCain’s ‘liberal’ stance on social issues.

Mr Dobson said until Mr Romney pulled out he was reluctant to choose between two “pro-family” candidates.

“The remaining candidate for whom I could vote is Governor Huckabee,” Mr Dobson said.

“His unwavering positions on the social issues, notably the institution of marriage, the importance of faith and the sanctity of human life, resonate deeply with me and with many others.

“Obviously, the governor faces an uphill struggle, given the delegates already committed to Senator McCain. Nevertheless, I believe he is our best remaining choice for president of the United States.”

An American organisation that works to expose the tactics of “ex-gay” groups, TruthWinsOut has said it is “alarmed” that Governor Huckabee is a contender for the White House.

He is considered a likely candidate for the Vice Presidential nomination alongside Senator McCain.

The group pointed to Huckabee’s comments last month on TV show Meet The Press when the candidate, asked if gay people are born that way, claimed: “we may have certain tendencies, but how we behave and how we carry out our behaviour.”

The group also questioned his links with the Christian Reconstructionist movement, which believes the Bible justifies stoning adulterers and homosexuals.

In Huckabee’s 1998 book, Kids Who Kill, he wrote:

“It is now difficult to keep track of the vast array of publicly endorsed and institutionally supported aberrations, from homosexuality and pedophilia to sadomasochism and necrophilia.”

Truth Wins Out’s executive director Wayne Besen said:

“Huckabee should explain why he is freely associating with known extremists and how this squares with his professed sunny and optimistic vision for America.

“Furthermore, his comparison of homosexuality to paedophilia and necrophilia is as ignorant as it is offensive.”

As a candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in 1992, Huckabee said: “It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS.

“It is the first time in the history of civilisation in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents.”

In December 2007 he told FOX News:

“I didn’t say that we should quarantine.

“I said it was the first time in public health protocols that when we had an infectious disease and we didn’t really know just how extensive and how dramatic it could be and the impact of it, that we didn’t isolate the carrier.

“I had simply made the point, and I still believe this today, that in the late ’80s and early ’90s, when we didn’t know as much as we do now about AIDS, we were acting more out of political correctness than we were about the normal public health protocols that we would have acted,” he added.

“Would I say things a little differently in 2007? Probably so,” Huckabee continued.

“But I’m not going to recant or retract from the statement that I did make because, again, the point was not saying we ought to lock people up who have HIV/AIDS.”