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Gay Republican Group will Consider Huntsman

Gay Republican Group will Consider Huntsman

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A gay Republican group will decide Tuesday whether to endorse its party's candidate for governor, despite Jon Huntsman Jr.'s support of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

The decision by the five-member board of the Utah Log Cabin Republicans mirrors one faced by its national group, which earlier this month withheld its endorsement of President Bush for re-election because of his support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Patrick C. Guerriero, executive director of the national 15,000-member gay Log Cabin Republicans, told about 25 gay activists in Salt Lake City on Saturday that Bush's election-year call for the constitutional amendment was like "a kick in the gut."

But it didn't make Guerriero "any less Republican or inclined to become a Democrat.

"Radical elements in the party want us to leave. Our message is, 'Let's stick it out and fight,"' Guerriero said.

Guerriero joined other prominent Republicans, like Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who oppose Amendment 3.

The proposed amendment, which goes before voters in November, says: "Marriage consists only of the legal union between a man and a woman. No other domestic union, however denominated, may be recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially equivalent effect."

Supporters say the amendment would strengthen existing marriage law and the second part, which has drawn the most opposition, is essential to prevent domestic partnerships, civil unions or other so-called "counterfeit marriages."

Opponents say that wording of the second part of the amendment could prevent basic legal protections for unmarried heterosexual couples, such as hospital visitation or inheritance.

Huntsman supports the amendment, but also wants to create reciprocal beneficiary legislation. Amendment opponents say such legislation would be barred by the amendment.

Utah Log Cabin President Gordon Storrs says he will make a "strong pitch" for endorsing Huntsman.

"He's the only politician who has even talked about fostering some legislation to grant any kind of rights to gay people in the form of a reciprocal benefits," Storrs said.

Board member Clay Essig, however, is among those who believe Huntsman's proposal is "politically naive" and would be judged illegal if the amendment passes. "There's no way Huntsman will get this past the Legislature," said Essig.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Scott Matheson Jr. opposes the amendment.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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