Jon Huntsman to GOP: Embrace Marriage Equality or ‘Marketplace of Ideas Will Render Us Irrelevant’

In a new piece for the American Conservative, former Utah governor and presidential candidate Jon Huntsman warns that "the marketplace of ideas will render us irrelevant, and soon, if we are not honest about our time and place in history" and calls on Republicans to embrace marriage equality:

HuntsmanWhile 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.

Huntsman warns the GOP that it is at a crossroads and risks losing even more if it does not progress socially.


  1. says

    that’s a good thing to say publicly.

    privately, however, the GOP will be saying “look, if we stop hating gays how else will we convince our base to continue to vote against their own best economic and healthcare interests?”

    “GAYS!” are the distraction from having to be honest about the fact that the GOP’s fiscal and healthcare policies screw over the vast majority of their voters.

  2. Alex Parrish says

    I wondered where all the ‘grey-matter’ disappeared to from the Republithug party. Apparently Huntsman has been hoarding all of the brain-power in the party. Sigh, if only it were sincere — OK maybe it is on HIS part but I doubt that sincerity extends very far into the party.

  3. andrew says

    Please don’t let the views of this “moderate” Republican, who had less than 5% support in that party, distract you from the facts. The Republican Party, as it is constituted today, is BAD for most Americans. If you are a woman, working class American, poor white, gay, African American, immigrant, legal or illegal, union member or middle class American that party is not working for you.

  4. matt says

    meanwhile back at the ranch…
    CPAC is once again banning gay republican groups from attending. the religious right tail of the republican party continues to wag the dog.

  5. Ben in Oakland says

    My biggest fear was that it would be Huntsman against Obama. Of the whole lot of them, only Huntsman had brains and integrity. Huntsman might have won, which by itself wouldn’t have been bad for the country. But a Republican congress would have been.

  6. says

    GREAT! Another nationally-known Republican comes out in favor of marriage equality………..after his/her career in electoral politics has ended. Wake me up when somebody with skin in the game steps up.

  7. BobN says

    “conservatives should start to lead again and push their states to join the nine others that allow all their citizens to marry”

    I’m sorry but the best Republicans can do is come to the party late. You cannot “lead” on this issue when the only reason more states don’t already have SSM or CUs is your own objections.

    Do not EVER let them forget.

  8. Moz's says

    already done

    per the latest USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll, only 22% of americans self identify as republican

    That of course does not mean they self identify as democratic, but rather what sane republicans there were have fled the party and at least self identify as indipendant

    The republican party and brand are as dead as the whigs and know nothing parties. The republican party will join them in the dust bin of american history

    The faster the better for everyone so a sane conservative party can take its place. Something more in line with blue dog dems, a conservative canadian, or conservative european like the torries

  9. Moz's says

    PS actually brian huntsman very publicly stated in the repub primary debates in prime time that he supported civil unions

    The move from 100% pro civil unions to marriage was not hard or an all of a sudden thing

  10. SFshawn says

    A Republican with a brain AND is articulate/goodlooking! WOW.
    If we only had a few more dems/repubs with this level of intelligent dialog then this Country might see progress instead of regression on issues of importance(Civil Rights,Gun Control,etc).

  11. Stefan says

    I’m not sure why so many are giving Huntsman a hard time. The Republican that endorses government intrusion into private affairs–marriage, procreative autonomy, etc.–is a fairly recent political animal. People often forget that the platforms we see now are, in many regards, not the historical norm and often are a break from the parties’ roots. Sure, we don’t want to forgive the GOP for its transgressions in the last couple decades, but Democrats have been guilty of them too and many still are. What if you had a race between Huntsman and a Democrat who was against marriage equality? Who would you vote for then?

    Huntsman is right: “There is nothing conservative about denying other Americans the ability to forge that same relationship with the person they love.”

  12. Pete N SFO says

    Thank goodness for the Primary process, or someone with a balanced approach such as Huntsman would really have given us trouble.

    As extreme as the GOP is, they nearly beat the Dems with all sorts of shenanigans. A moderate teamed up with those schemers would be a really big problem for Dems & gays

  13. woodroad34 says

    I guess Jon Huntsman is tired of putting his thumb and forefinger to his forehead in an “L”. Republicans used to be good for something — now, because of Rovian and Gingrichian policies, they’re good for nothings. Barry Goldwater–an arch Republican–told everyone they should embrace gay rights. But like a cancer, hateful, self-righteous, reptilian neo-cons have ruined their own party. Perhaps this is a sign someone has awakened from their coma to start moving forward.

  14. Bill says

    @Little Kiwi: While the Republicans have been using gays as a distraction from policies that benefit only richest 0.1% of the public at everyone else’s expense, what Huntsman is pointing out to them is that targeting gays is no longer working, or at best marginally working, so it is time to close down the act.

    With a small number of states allowing same-sex marriages, people have been able to see that the sky, or at least a large meteor, did not fall as a result. Plus there is Jon Steward and Stephen Colbert – it has reached the point where the Republicans’ anti-gay stances are becoming fodder for comedians. It’s gone beyond a “wide stance” to doing a split – any further and the limbs start coming off.

    Of course the Republicans will try the same old scare tactics, but they are going to assign the bogyman to someone else.

  15. says

    I hear ya, Bill, I just don’t see yet whom that “next target” is gonna be.

    simply put – without gays and abortions and brown people and muslims, what group will be used as the GOP’s distraction from their fiscal policies?

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