SALT LAKE CITY — Since their November defeat, the Republican Party has been whirling as they attempt to bring in more voters. And a former Utah governor is hoping to change that with his support of marriage equality.
Former Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr., writing an op-ed article for The American Conservative magazine Thursday, called on conservatives to push marriage equality in their states.
"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," Huntsman wrote. "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.
"Marriage is not an issue that people rationalize through the abstract lens of the law; rather it is something understood emotionally through one's experience with family, neighbors, and friends," Huntsman added.
Huntsman opined that Americans want to be governed by the conservative principles of a limited government and a free market, but that they are held back because not all Americans are equal under the law.
"This is both the right thing to do and will better allow us to confront the real choice our country is facing," Huntsman said. "We are at a crossroads. I believe the American people will vote for free markets under equal rules of the game — because there is no opportunity or job growth any other way. But the American people will not hear us out if we stand against their friends, family, and individual liberty."
As governor of Utah, Huntsman was a supporter of civil unions, supporting more moderate principles such as improving the state's strict liquor laws. Huntsman's support of civil unions was one of the factors that enabled Salt Lake City to support anti-discrimination laws in housing and employment.
"Marriage is not an issue that people rationalize through the abstract lens of the law; rather it is something understood emotionally through one's experience with family, neighbors, and friends."
"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," Huntsman said. "Civil unions, I believed, were a practical step that would bring all citizens more fully into the fabric of a state that already were — and always had been — a part of."
Huntsman also addressed the issue of immigration reform, saying Republicans should not only be looking for minority votes, but should be content living with others as well.
"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," Huntsman said. "We must be happy warriors who refuse to tolerate those who want Hispanic votes but not Hispanic neighbors."
Huntsman said a different approach will go a long way in equalizing votes. "If conservatives come to the table with solutions that put our communities first, it will go a long way toward winning elections."