The list of high profile Republicans who support same-sex marriage is small. Former Vice-President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of State Colin Powell are just two of the few who have done so. And now former Republican Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman joins them.
In an op-ed for the American Conservative, Huntsman called marriage equality a “conservative cause” that Republicans should embrace because “Americans will not coalesce around Republicans’ free market ideas if we stand against their friends, family, and individual liberty.”
Despite the fact that Americans are not just opposed to Republican economic policies simply because the GOP opposes same-sex marriage, Huntsman did make a passionate case for why conservatives should support marriage equality.
“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 is correct when he says marriage equality should be a conservative cause. One of the main tenets of conservatism is the idea that government should stay out of the private lives of citizens. That very tenet is one of the primary reasons why conservative icon Barry Goldwater supported equality for gays and lesbians.
But while Huntsman’s words are powerful, it will be hard – damn near impossible – to convince the far right conservatives who have a stranglehold on the Republican Party. The Christian right is a politically powerful coalition that strikes fear into moderate Republicans who are concerned about primary challenges. Supporting same-sex marriage would most certainly splinter the GOP, but at least the Republican party would have a chance to survive in future elections. More Americans than ever before support same-sex marriage and as long as conservatives support discrimination against gays and lesbians voters will not support the Republican party.