After announcing his run for the presidency yesterday, Republican candidate Jon Huntsman told reporters that he would respect New York's marriage equality law if it passes and would not seek to pass a federal amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Speaking to reporters on the day of his campaign launch, Huntsman was asked specifically about the growing likelihood of a same-sex marriage bill being passed in New York. Would he seek to overrule Empire State lawmakers should he end up in the Oval Office?
"I would respect the state's decision on that," he replied.
The answer, while brisk, nevertheless sets Huntsman apart from his fellow Republican presidential candidates. Other members of the field have offered sympathy for state sovereignty on matters of marriage. But they have usually couched that by saying they would support a federal ban on same-sex marriage as well.
Huntsman's fundraising team is also reaching out to gay voters according to GayPolitics.com:
Huntsman's fundraisers have been seeking support from LGBT Republicans, according to a story in Politico today. That's unusual for GOP presidential candidates, most of whom tend to seek the favor of a socially conservative base whose influence often shapes early primary races.
"On the domestic front, and as it specifically pertains to our greater LGBT community, Governor and Mrs. Huntsman are particularly supportive of our issues," wrote Charles T. Moran, an openly gay Republican political consultant, in a letter to potential LGBT donors.
Moran was likely referring to a 2009 announcement by the then-governor's staff that he endorsed a bill that would have provided civil unions for same-sex couples in Utah, a move that shocked the political establishment at the time. He also supported laws banning employment and housing discrimination against LGBT Utahns, according to the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder.
Moran stepped a little outside of the truth though when touting Huntsman's queer bonafides. According to Think Progress:
The letter, written by California Log Cabin Republicans Vice Chairman and Huntsman campaign employee Charles T. Moran, states plainly that Huntsman "signed into law Utah's first Civil Unions legislation" -- a simplistic declaration that could easily mislead voters into believing Huntsman actually signed legislation to legalize civil unions in Utah:
On the domestic front, and as it specifically pertains to our greater LGBT community, Governor and Mrs. Huntsman are particularly supportive of our issues. Governor Huntsman signed into law Utah's first Civil Unions legislation - a politically courageous move on his part given that state's politics.
In 2008, Huntsman signed legislation expanding domestic partner benefits for Utah's unmarried couples, including gays. But legislation legalizing civil unions never passed, making it impossible for Huntsman to sign it into law. And while he supported expanding hospital visitation rights and other "contractual" rights for gay couples, most of those initiatives died in the state Legislature.