On Thursday, No Labels co-leader Jon Huntsman urged Republicans to lead the fight to legalize gay marriage in states that do not recognize it.
Writing in The American Conservative, the former Ambassador to China for President Barack Obama, Utah governor, and failed 2012 presidential candidate argued that marriage equality is a conservative cause and noted he supported civil unions while he was governor of Utah even though 70% of Utahns opposed it. He believes it is time for the GOP 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,” Huntsman wrote. “The party of Lincoln should stand with our best tradition of equality and support full civil marriage for all Americans.”
Huntsman wrote that “civil marriage” would not “mean that any religious group would be forced by the state to recognize relationships that run counter to their conscience” and is “compatible with, and indeed promotes, freedom of conscience.”
“Immigration reform” advocates often make the argument that immigration is the so-called gateway issue for Hispanics, that Hispanics who may be inclined to vote for Republicans will not do so if Republicans are perceived as being intolerant. And so they push for more lenient immigration policies.
Hunstman, the leader of the bipartisan No Labels group who has chided, mocked, and disdainfully rebuked conservatives in the past for refusing to accept climate change as a reality, is making a similar argument with gay marriage.
He wrote that Americans “will vote for free markets under equal rules of the game” but “will not hear us out if we stand against their friends, family, and individual liberty.” Huntsman’s belief is that younger, economically mobile voters who also skew a bit libertarian favor, in the least, civil unions. He believes such voters would be inclined to vote for Republicans as they get older and have families, but will not do so if the party is painted as being intolerant toward their gay and lesbian friends.
Huntsman’s “no social issues” position is also consistent with the views of liberal Republican donors in Manhattan and Silicon Valley that fund groups like No Labels, a group that seems to align itself with every Republican or Democrat who can win the so-called “Morning Joe” primary.