Jon Huntsman, former Utah governor and presidential hopeful, makes a conservative argument for marriage equality in The American Conservative this week. Huntsman writes about his support for civil unions and LGBTQ equality during his time as Utah’s governor. He advocates that the party of Lincoln “should stand with our best tradition of equality and support full civil marriage for all Americans.”
While serving as governor of Utah, I pushed for civil unions and expanded reciprocal benefits for gay citizens. 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. Civil unions, I believed, were a practical step that would bring all citizens more fully into the fabric of a state they already were—and always had been—a part of.
That was four years ago. 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. 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.
All Americans should be treated equally by the law, whether they marry in a church, another religious institution, or a town hall. This 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.
Marriage is not an issue that people rationalize through the abstract lens of the law; rather it is something understood emotionally through one’s own experience with family, neighbors, and friends. The party of Lincoln should stand with our best tradition of equality and support full civil marriage for all Americans.
Huntsman’s article comes the day after the Respect for Marriage Coalition aired a new bipartisan television ad featuring both conservative and liberal leaders supporting marriage equality. The ad features President Obama, Colin Powell, and Dick Cheney. Former First Lady Laura Bush asked to be removed from the ad.
Respect for Marriage Coalition Ad
#Time4Marriage is a public education effort to highlight the broad support for the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples.