Former 2012 presidential candidate, Republican Jon Huntsman, just announced he supports marriage equality.
As former governor of Utah, Huntsman pushed for civil unions, but says now is the time to do more. In an op-ed for The American Conservative, he writes “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.”
Huntsman urges conservatives leaders to join the nine other states that already allow same-sex marriage, emphasizing that religious freedom can be protected in the process. “[Marriage equality] 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,” he says.
Huntsman’s stance on marriage equality has evolved much like President Obama’s. While running for the 2012 presidency he favored civil unions, but did not support same-sex marriage. In 2011 he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “I believe in traditional marriage. I don’t think you can redefine marriage from a traditional sense.” Then in a 2012 interview with The Huffington Post, Huntsman said that “states ought to be entitled to do whatever they want.”
His op-ed takes a dramatically different approach. Huntsman writes that marriage equality not only coincides with conservative principles, but is also necessary for the party’s survival. He argues that “It’s difficult to get people even to consider your reform ideas if they think, with good reason, you don’t like or respect them.” He urges conservatives to treat all Americans with respect and equally under the law.
In the wake of “Leadership,” a national ad which shows prominent Republicans making pro marriage equality statements, Huntsman is now the latest in a trend which suggest same-sex marriage could be an issue supported on both sides of the aisle.