Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mormon presidential candidate endorses gay marriage

Excerpts of Huntsman endorses gay marriage, urges GOP to do same, by Thomas Burr, Salt Lake Tribune
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is endorsing gay marriage and urging fellow Republicans to embrace the cause of equality as a basic conservative principle.

Huntsman, who ran an unsuccessful bid for the Republican Party's 2012 presidential nomination, backed civil unions as Utah's chief executive but said in an opinion piece that was "four years ago" and he's evolved.

"I've been married for 29 years. My marriage has been the greatest joy of my life," Huntsman said in a piece published in The American Conservative magazine. "There is nothing conservative about denying other Americans the ability to forge that same relationship with the person they love."

The U.S. Supreme Court will take up the question next month of whether California — with its voter-approved, LDS Church-backed Proposition 8 — can ban gay marriage, a case that could have widespread repercussions for other states.

Huntsman says it's time conservatives "start to lead again" and push for their states to join the nine — along with the District of Columbia — that now allow same-sex marriages.

"The party of Lincoln," Huntsman wrote, "should stand with our best tradition of equality and support full civil marriage for all Americans."

Huntsman as recently as January 2012 had said he was against same-sex marriage, though he said states should be able to decide who can wed.

"On marriage, I'm a traditionalist," Huntsman said at the ABC News debate at New Hampshire's St. Anselm College. "I think that ought to be saved for one man and one woman, but I believe that civil unions are fair."

Utah Eagle Forum leader Gayle Ruzicka noted that Huntsman had backed an amendment to Utah's Constitution that barred gay marriage and she says Huntsman has backed out of a promise to oppose same-sex unions.

"Gay marriage is not a conservative practice, it's not a Republican practice and Governor Huntsman is neither one of those things," Ruzicka said. "He should do himself a favor and become a Democrat. Those are the principles he espouses and those are the people he associates with."

The ex-governor's choice for announcing his new-found support for same-sex marriage was also interesting: The American Conservative magazine, founded in part by ex-presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, and devoted to finding an "intellectual home for serious, independent-minded conservatives."

Huntsman on Thursday also called on his party to refuse to tolerate those within its ranks who "want Hispanic votes but not Hispanic neighbors," and that the GOP needed to lead on reforming drug policies.