Jon Huntsman Hub

Thank the Law for Marriage Equality Momentum


In both the run up to and in the wake of historic Supreme Court arguments on gay equality (which you can read about here, here, here, here, and here), several political leaders from both parties have come out in favor of the freedom to marry. We've had Jon Huntsman, a Republican; Mark Begich, a Democrat; Rob Portman, a Republican; Hillary Clinton, a Democrat; Mark Kirk, a Republican; Bob Casey, a Democrat; and many others. And, they are just a tiny fraction of a fraction of the 58 % of Americans that now support our quest for marriage recognition.

WydenSenators Begich, Portman, Kirk, and Casey are 4 among the 52 United States Senators -- more than 1/2 of that august body -- on the right side of history. Senator Tim Johnson, Democrat of South Dakota, is the latest, and Sen. Kirk is the latest Republican to buck the continued bigotry of his party's base and leadership, a position for which he deserves credit. But, let's not put the latecomers above the vanguard, like Senator Ron Wyden (pictured), a Democrat, who came out for marriage equality in 1995, before "marriage equality" was the de rigueur phrase and long before every other proud progressive felt comfortable following his lead.

Conservatives and liberals have blasted some our most recent allies as "phony" opportunists, spineless, or worse. Chief Justice Roberts even derisively characterized them as "falling over themselves" to support us. Others say we should welcome the evolution as either the nature of the political beast or the product of a personal journey. That's a discussion worth having, but at the moment, I am more interested in what got us here.

If you have been reading the news over the past two weeks, your head might be spinning from the tidal wave of pro-equality support. I mixed those metaphors for a reason: it's a surprisingly accurate description. One by one, many of our politicians have jumped on the marriage bandwagon. There were some important moments along the way -- President Obama and Rob Portman come to mind -- but the momentum reached a climax in the week leading up the Supreme Court hearings on Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Prop 8 case, and Windsor v. United States, the challenge to DOMA.

Timing was not our only ally; the law was, too. Federal court challenges to two harmful and discriminatory laws gave us the opportunity to replace the lies and fearmongering of the DOMA Congress and the Prop 8 proponents with truth and justice. And, the public learned, taking to heart the well-publicized lessons of court decision after court decision. Generational shifts are playing their role, but the law was the catalyst of the falling dominoes we read about every day. Hollingsworth and Windsor pushed public opinion, laying bare the emptiness of our opponents' arguments and the virulence of their hatred. There was little for politics to do other than to try and keep up.

I consider the catalytic effect of the law AFTER THE JUMP...

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Prop 8 Plaintiffs File Supreme Court Brief. So Do Republicans! Is President Obama Next?


644407_10100456807515887_2062309360_nLast week, the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the organization running the federal challenge to Prop 8, submitted its brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Hollingsworth v. Perry. The brief, written by Ted Olson and David Boies (or, more accurately, their associates), is a talisman to equality. It is a testament not only to the justice of our cause -- the cause of the freedom to marry -- but to its place in the American legal tradition. It also puts pressure on President Obama, an avowed supporter of our community and our right to marry, to get involved in the case.

All legal briefs are stories. You are trying to prove that your client's version of reality is the reality, and this is something that the Olson and Boies team did remarkably well. They make the freedom to marry seem so logical, so natural, so much in line with the American progressive tradition.

The amicus brief filed by more than 75 prominent Republicans tells a different story, taking a unique path to the same destination. For these Republicans -- including former Utah Governor and candidate for the Republican nomination for President John Huntsman, former George W. Bush adviser Ken Mehlman, and Republican Congresspersons Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Richard Hanna (R-NY) -- recognizing the freedom to marry for gay Americans is part of the same legal tradition that gave us the much loathed-by-progressives Citizens United.

Both briefs are worth discussing at length. Look forward to columns dedicated to each. For now, I would like to summarize their analyses briefly and argue two things:

First, the presence of AFER's vision and the arguments of Governor Huntsman et al. at the Supreme Court make it almost impossible for the Obama Administration not to get involved. To sit on the sidelines, even if all the President does is repeat the arguments offered by AFER and this small group of Republicans, would put him behind the very vanguard he has been leading for some time. Second, the presence of several Republicans as signatories -- including the very recently pro-Prop 8 and candidate for California governor Meg Whitman -- suggests either that the world is changing even faster than we thought or that the Republican leadership is taking a craven approach to the codswallop it has been serving to its homophobic base. Politicians who actually hate and want to discriminate are bad enough; those who don't care and adopt the position of hate just to achieve power are indefensible.


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Bobby Jindal Won't Accept Marriage Equality: Video

During this morning's edition of Meet the Press, David Gregory asked GOP Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal if he would adopt Jon Huntsman's newfound support of marriage equality. He won't.

The likely 2016 presidential candidate responded: “Look, I believe in the traditional definition of marriage.” Watch the clip (and Gregory chime saying "sounds like he's running (for president)," AFTER THE JUMP.

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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.

Jon Huntsman Drops Out of Presidential Race: VIDEO


As I mentioned earlier, Jon Huntsman held a press conference earlier today announcing that he is dropping out of the GOP race for President. Huntsman endorsed Mitt Romney and had sharp words about the tone the campaign has taken.

Said Huntsman: "This race has degenerated into an onslaught of negative and personal attacks not worthy of the American people and not worthy of this critical time in our nation's history..."

Huntsman also accused Obama of engaging in "class warfare".

Watch his press conference, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Jon Huntsman to Drop Out of Race, Endorse Romney

Jon Huntsman is planning an 11 am ET announcement in which he will drop out and endorse Mitt Romney, Politico reports:

HuntsmanA source said that Huntsman's rationale for backing Romney, who he has criticized for weeks on the campaign trail as lacking a "core," is that he didn't want to block the person best prepared in the field to beat Obama, and then to lead the country and grapple with the economy.

"Jon Huntsman is proud of the campaign he ran and the message of restoring trust in Washington," said a campaign official familiar with his thinking. "He didn't want to stand in the way of the candidate most likely to beat Barack Obama and turn the economy around. That's Mitt Romney."

A source close to the campaign said some of Huntsman's advisers attempted to talk him out of the decision, urging the former ambassador to at least wait until after the South Carolina primary this Saturday. It was just today that he got the endorsement of The State, South Carolina's largest newspaper.

"It was entirely a family decision," said the source.



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