ONTD Political

Marriage Equality Is a Conservative Cause

10:53 pm - 02/21/2013

By Jon Huntsman. February 21, 2013.

The party of Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan has now lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. The marketplace of ideas will render us irrelevant, and soon, if we are not honest about our time and place in history. Unfortunately, much of the discussion has focused on cosmetic solutions to, say, our under-performance among ethnic and young voters. This is a mistake: we cannot cross this river by feeling for stones. Instead, we need to take a hard look at what today’s conservatism stands for.

Conservatives can start by examining how Republicans working with Democrats have governed in several successful states, including Utah; free-market-based healthcare reform, tax reform that eliminated deductions and closed loopholes to bring down rates, and practical education reforms that spoke to 21st-century realities.

Instead of using immigration reform as a wedge issue, like many leaders in Washington, Utah passed legislation to help manage immigration based on our real economic needs. If conservatives come to the table with solutions that put our communities first, it will go a long way toward winning elections.

But it’s difficult to get people even to consider your reform ideas if they think, with good reason, you don’t like or respect them. Building a winning coalition to tackle the looming fiscal and trust deficits will be impossible if we continue to alienate broad segments of the population. We must be happy warriors who refuse to tolerate those who want Hispanic votes but not Hispanic neighbors. We should applaud states that lead on reforming drug policy. And, consistent with the Republican Party’s origins, we must demand equality under the law 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.

This is both the right thing to do and will better allow us to confront the real choice our country is facing: a choice between the Founders’ vision of a limited government that empowers free markets, with a level playing field giving opportunity to all, and a world of crony capitalism and rent-seeking by the most powerful economic interests.

Adam Smith was not only an architect of the modern world of extraordinary economic opportunity, he was a moralist whose first book was The Theory of Moral Sentiments. The foundation of his thought was his insight that free markets and open commerce strengthened our moral fiber by reinforcing the community of shared and reciprocal economic interests. Government, he thought, had to be limited lest it be captured and corrupted by special business interests who wanted protection from competition and the reciprocal requirements of community.

We are at a crossroads. I believe the American people will vote for free markets under equal rules of the game—because there is no opportunity or job growth any other way. But the American people will not hear us out if we stand against their friends, family, and individual liberty.

Jon Huntsman is a former governor of Utah and was a Huntsman Corporation executive and U.S. ambassador to China and Singapore.

ultraelectric 22nd-Feb-2013 03:27 pm (UTC)
I quite like Jon Huntsman, in the last election he was one of the better Republican candidates, too bad his party saw him as disloyal because he decided to put politics aside and serve in the Obama administration.
primeling 22nd-Feb-2013 03:55 pm (UTC)
Oh my god, a Republican I don't want to boot into the Dead Sea?
kittenmommy 22nd-Feb-2013 06:43 pm (UTC)

moonshaz 23rd-Feb-2013 06:33 am (UTC)
Ikr? Who'd a thunk it.
kittenmommy 23rd-Feb-2013 06:34 am (UTC)

I am amazed.

How sad is that?
aviv_b 22nd-Feb-2013 04:01 pm (UTC)
I also like Huntsman on many points. But to most Republicans today, he's way too 'liberal.'

By making their unholy alliance with evangelical Christians, the Republicans find themselves wedded (pun intended) to a social ideology that runs counter to much of what limited government Republicans used to stand for. (Because nothing says limited government quite like telling people who they can marry and regulating their right to control their own bodies).

It's taken a generation for them to reap what they sowed. And Huntsman's right when he says that a few cosmetic adjustments will fool no one.
anamatics 22nd-Feb-2013 04:02 pm (UTC)
I also like Huntsman a lot. Shame he probably will never run because he's "too liberal". I think he could be a breath of fresh air for the republicans.
othellia 22nd-Feb-2013 07:52 pm (UTC)
He did run in this last election, but - as was mentioned - was too liberal for the GOP. I think he was one of the first drop outs, before even Herman '999' Cain.
anamatics 22nd-Feb-2013 08:06 pm (UTC)
I should have added a qualifier to that statement. Silly early morning posting me! My bad.
rainbow_fish 22nd-Feb-2013 04:41 pm (UTC)
He was my fave out of the GOPs running during the last election and I at least respected his opinions on most points. But I feel like I voiced that opinion here and people pointed out some really shitty things he'd done in the past??

Either way, this: "But the American people will not hear us out if we stand against their friends, family, and individual liberty." is what i've been trying to explain to my GOP family. Human rights are an a priori issue for me so even if I agreed with how the GOP wants to run government (i don't), I still couldn't vote for them because of their, imo, dedication to oppression
blackjedii 23rd-Feb-2013 12:27 am (UTC)
I don't doubt he's done bad things. And for me personally, I am a jerk enough to say it takes a hell of a lot for me to trust a Mormon in a position of power it's complicated and rude I know but it's some personal stuff

But if we have to have Republicans - which it's going to be decades until the party is dead and buried I am afraid - I'd rather they be ones willing to actually work with the other side and not be ZOMG AGAINST MY RELIGION EVIL MUSLIN BLACK GUY IS EVIL so yeah.
amyura 22nd-Feb-2013 04:49 pm (UTC)
The problem is, the Republican party is too far gone for this to work. A huge percentage of Republican voters have no true allegiance to economic conservatism; they're voting against gay rights, women's rights, and immigrant rights. And they're doing so because for 40 years, the Republican leadership has actively courted their votes, drawing many, many working-class but racist and sexist Americans out of the Democratic party, even though the Democrats' economic policies were better for them. Are the Republicans prepared to lose all THOSE votes when they can't be sure their economic policies alone will draw in enough voters to replace them?
tinylegacies 22nd-Feb-2013 07:22 pm (UTC)
the only hope we have is that the Republican party implodes
fishphile 22nd-Feb-2013 10:53 pm (UTC)
Perfect comment.
angelus7988 22nd-Feb-2013 11:37 pm (UTC)
That's an interesting point. I've often wondered about the opposite, i.e. how many people lean Democrat just because they want gay marriage and abortions, but are really more like Libertarians.
darsynia 23rd-Feb-2013 01:03 pm (UTC)
That describes my husband to a T, actually!
theguindo 23rd-Feb-2013 10:45 pm (UTC)
I leaned republican for the fiscal policies until I started realizing just how completely fucking asinine and malicious the party's turned on a social level

And the only way to get those social policies handled is to vote democrat, even though I largely disagree with them on fiscal policy

So I consider myself moderate-leaning-libertarian now but I usually end up voting democrat just because it's the only way to not vote against my own interests (I still voted Gary Johnson for president; I wouldn't have if I didn't live in a blue state).

In local level elections I research each candidate and vote for the one whose mission statement best reflects what I want, with anti-rights being an immediate dealbreaker. There are a loooot of candidates who sound real good up until 'I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman', and then I end up voting for the other one, who's of course a democrat, libertarian if I'm really lucky.

So there's another one who fits your pondering.

(I'm still registered republican and probably won't give that up until the party collapses or libertarians become viable in presidentials; I want to be able to vote for the least whackjob of the candidates in the primaries.)
lone_concertina 22nd-Feb-2013 05:47 pm (UTC)
shortsweetcynic 22nd-Feb-2013 07:22 pm (UTC)
this was awesome. i especially love "utahns"...i guess I never really thought about how you would pluralize that. :)
eyetosky 22nd-Feb-2013 08:12 pm (UTC)
Once in awhile, I get really, really excited at what Conservatism/GOP has the capacity to be. The idea that the next debates won't be such a sideshow, that I'll be able to imagine some of these candidates without an eyepatch and a villain cat, is staggering.
dangomango 22nd-Feb-2013 09:50 pm (UTC)
The Republican Party is dying because the Democratic Party IS the Republican Party. We have no "liberal" political party in this country. THAT'S the fucking problem. It's basically the party that's 50% evil vs. the party that's 95% evil.
blackjedii 23rd-Feb-2013 12:23 am (UTC)
I wouldn't quite say that.

It's more that whatever else happens, we only have two dominating parties

cellared 23rd-Feb-2013 01:42 am (UTC)
don't you bring your logic into this
amyura 23rd-Feb-2013 03:39 am (UTC)
Yup, this. The party responsible for DOMA and the repeal of Glass-Steagall can't be called liberal.
mingemonster 22nd-Feb-2013 09:56 pm (UTC)
No, it's not. Conservatism is a shitty ideology that hurts people and has been a roadblock on every step towards a modern society, stop appropriating gay rights to promote it.
wrestlingdog 23rd-Feb-2013 12:39 am (UTC)
bushy_brow 23rd-Feb-2013 01:33 am (UTC)
Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeep, this!
spiritoftherain 23rd-Feb-2013 02:07 am (UTC)
Why is it a bad thing to "appropriate" gay rights? What's wrong with a guy wanting the party he most strongly identifies with to abandon the rampant discrimination he sees in his riding?
alexvdl 23rd-Feb-2013 02:51 am (UTC)
Yeah... no.

Have you considered looking at the history of the United States of America, Britain, France, and Canada?

Or how about the conservatism of German chancellor Angela Merkin who is basically running the entire EU and preventing it from crumbling?

rhodanum 23rd-Feb-2013 05:59 am (UTC)
I beg to differ about the 'keeping it from crumbling' bit, but only because I ascribe to the school of thought that warns against spending like no tomorrow if you know that you honestly don't have coverage... yet which also points out that you cannot expect any sort of meaningful economic growth if your austerity measures are busily wiping out people's ability to spend money on anything other than basic goods.

I'm seeing this in full-swing here (and my country isn't even among the worst-hit by the crisis). We were always a thrifty lot (to be expected when the average wage rarely tops 300 euro per month, at best), but now it's gotten to the point where people aren't willing to spend money on non-survival services at all. This naturally led to a wave of bankruptcies a fattening of the unemployed numbers and an overall worsening of the situation. Our optimistically projected economic growth numbers are now straight in the toilet.

I don't see anything good for Europe by relying solely on austerity and continuing to tighten the damn thumbscrews. There's only so much you can slash before parts of this continent start looking as if they suffered the economic damage equivalent of a small-scale war, with all the consequences that follow.

Honestly, people who keep on harping about austerity and conservative measure helping the economy on their own drive me up the fucking wall, because it's as if they're living in a glass tower and not the real world. You can't jump-start an economic engine when one of the key components - the population - has been utterly wrecked in its ability to send funds circulating in the whole system.
hinoema 23rd-Feb-2013 09:20 am (UTC)
I agree.
blackjedii 23rd-Feb-2013 12:22 am (UTC)

I like him

I like his daughter too

They are okay y'all

hinoema 23rd-Feb-2013 09:18 am (UTC)
There is nothing conservative about denying other Americans the ability to forge that same relationship with the person they love.

Love this quote. Unfortunately, he'll never make it as a Republican with that attitude.

...a choice between the Founders’ vision of a limited government that empowers free markets, with a level playing field giving opportunity to all...

There's a piece of historical fiction. The founders wanted to escape the hereditary class structure of the Old World, but they wanted any actual opportunity to be limited to the right kind of people- the new upper class. The purpose of the colonies was laissez faire capitalism at the expense of the indentured/ enslaved underclass, not some 'level playing field for all' nonsense.

He is right that the Republicans can't succeed by alienating whole groups on principal, but this 'free market solves all' blather is no kind of solution.
theguindo 23rd-Feb-2013 10:50 pm (UTC)
I interpret him meaning a free market with regulations to keep it a free market, but that might be projection/wishful thinking.

ia with you on the bit about the founders, though. sometimes i feel like repubs who are trying to appeal to other repubs are forced to cite some misinterpretation of the founders just to get their point through some skulls even though they don't believe it themselves.
hinoema 24th-Feb-2013 10:41 am (UTC)
True. It's like the party line version of Holy Writ.
kittymink 23rd-Feb-2013 11:25 pm (UTC)
I like him.

Also he was in a prog-rock band called WIZARD.
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