Friday, February 22, 2013

Ex-Gov Jon Huntsman (R-UT) Supports Marriage Equality

Jon Huntsman is the former Governor of Utah and former U.S. Ambassador to China who ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2011. He was the person the Obama-Biden team feared the most but of course he was also considered absolutely unacceptable by theGOP base.

I don't know if Huntsman is thinking about running for President in 2016 but it is very interesting that he has become the first of the 2012 presidential contenders to come out publicly in favor of marriage equality.
While serving as governor of Utah, I pushed for civil unions and expanded reciprocal benefits for gay citizens. I did so not because of political pressure—indeed, at the time 70 percent of Utahns were opposed—but because as governor my role was to work for everybody, even those who didn’t have access to a powerful lobby. Civil unions, I believed, were a practical step that would bring all citizens more fully into the fabric of a state they already were—and always had been—a part of.

That was four years ago. 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.

All Americans should be treated equally by the law, whether they marry in a church, another religious institution, or a town hall. This does not mean that any religious group would be forced by the state to recognize relationships that run counter to their conscience. Civil equality is compatible with, and indeed promotes, freedom of conscience.

Marriage is not an issue that people rationalize through the abstract lens of the law; rather it is something understood emotionally through one’s own experience with family, neighbors, and friends. The party of Lincoln should stand with our best tradition of equality and support full civil marriage for all Americans.
Huntsman makes the case for marriage equality from a conservative point of view, and is an important marker in the journey of this issue moving to a bipartisan cause, as the Respect for Marriage Coalition espouses.

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