Former Utah governor and presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman is speaking out in favor of marriage equality, arguing that it is a “conservative cause” that the Republican Party should support. In an op-ed for The American Conservative, Huntsman writes about his time as governor of Utah during which he pushed for civil unions and equality for the LGBTQ community, and adds that the GOP now has the 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,” Huntsman writes. “There is nothing conservative about denying other Americans the ability to forge that same relationship with the person they love… This is both the right thing to do and will better allow us to confront the real choice our country is facing: a choice between the Founders’ vision of a limited government that empowers free markets, with a level playing field giving opportunity to all, and a world of crony capitalism and rent-seeking by the most powerful economic interests.”
Huntsman’s pro-marriage equality stance is not only a symbolic step forward for conservatives, but for Mormons as well. “Over the last several years we have been seeing more and more Mormons from across the political spectrum come out in support of marriage equality,” said Spencer W. Clark, executive director of Mormons for Marriage Equality, in a recent statement. “ I am thrilled that Gov. Huntsman has taken this stand and hope that it will prompt other Mormons to join us in building stronger families by ensuring that same-sex couples and their children have access to the same protection and benefits under the law that my family has.”
Huntsman’s advocacy comes the day after a new ad from the Respect for Marriage Coalition debuted a new bipartisan ad featuring both conservative and liberal leaders supporting marriage equality. The television ad, which began airing Wednesday, features President Obama, Colin Powell, and Dick Cheney. (Former First Lady Laura Bush, who was also featured in the ad, asked Wednesday afternoon to be removed.)
Momentum for marriage equality has been on the rise following four successful campaigns during the 2012 election, and both Rhode Island’s and Illinois’ latest achievements in moving forward bills to legalize same-sex marriage–and Republicans are also starting to come around on the issue. In Minnesota, Republican state Sen. Branden Peterson is reportedly in talks to co-sponsor a bill that would begin the process of legalizing same-sex marriage in the state.
Still, not all conservatives are jumping on board. A New Mexico House committee recently blocked a bill that would allow the public to vote on legalizing same-sex marriage.