Thursday, February 21, 2013

Former GOP Presidential Contender: Republicans Should Embrace Marriage Equality

Jon Huntsman
Courtesy of the U.S. State Department
By Brody Levesque | ARLINGTON, VA -- An opinion piece penned for The American Conservative magazine Thursday- entitled “Marriage Equality Is a Conservative Cause," by former U.S. Ambassador to China, GOP Presidential candidate, and Utah governor Jon Huntsman- urges members and leadership of Republican party to accept same-sex marriage and embrace it warning that failure to do so will continue to result in the electorate becoming further disenchanted with the party.
"Americans will not coalesce around Republicans' free market ideas, Huntsman wrote, "if we stand against their friends, family, and individual liberty."
Huntsman, who as a Mormon, bucked his church and others in the GOP with his support for same-sex civil unions in Utah and elsewhere had shied away from endorsing same-sex marriage in an interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe in June of 2011 telling host Joe Scarborough;
"I think redefining marriage is something that would be impossible and it’s something I would not be in favor of. But I believe, just subordinate to marriage we have not done an adequate job in the area of equality and reciprocal beneficiary rights. 
I’ve spoken out about that, my support of civil unions, some people like it, some people don’t."
Huntsman as Utah's governor signed legislation expanding domestic partner benefits for Utah’s unmarried couples, including gay people. Since February of 2009 he has endorsed civil unions for gay and lesbian couples telling the Salt Lake Tribune in a September 2012 interview that America needs to continue its pursuit of "equality under the law," but said states should decide how to deal with same-sex marriage.
""What’s important here is people having the conversation about inclusiveness and about fairness and about equality under the law," Huntsman told the Tribune. 
"It’s hard to know what the wrapping looks like, what the definition and term happens to be, and each state might end up doing it a little differently, but the end point ought to be equality under the law."
The governor has had a long held position of being a maverick in the GOP.  During his 2012 GOP presidential primary run, Huntsman came under fire from conservative groups for his stance on various policy issues;  “I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.” He also suggested the Republican had moved politically so far right that Ronald Reagan wouldn't make it through a primary.
In his piece today, Huntsman argues;
"The party of Lincoln should stand with our best tradition of equality and support full civil marriage for all Americans..." 
[..] [I]t’s difficult to get people even to consider your reform ideas if they think, with good reason, you don’t like or respect them. Building a winning coalition to tackle the looming fiscal and trust deficits will be impossible if we continue to alienate broad segments of the population. We must be happy warriors who refuse to tolerate those who want Hispanic votes but not Hispanic neighbors. We should applaud states that lead on reforming drug policy. And, consistent with the Republican Party’s origins, we must demand equality under the law for all Americans… 
Today we have an opportunity to do more: conservatives should start to lead again and push their states to join the nine others that allow all their citizens to marry. I’ve been married for 29 years. My marriage has been the greatest joy of my life. There is nothing conservative about denying other Americans the ability to forge that same relationship with the person they love.
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin issued the following statement in response to Huntsman’s piece:
“Governor Jon Huntsman is one of a growing number of Republicans to embrace the idea that marriage should be for all Americans. From former Vice President Dick Cheney to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Huntsman is yet another high profile Republican official to make the case that treating people equally under the law is an American value.”