One might have expected that he would pay a tremendous political price for that in a state as conservative as Utah, but that doesn’t appear to be the case:
Gov. Jon Huntsman stirred fresh debate when he came out in favor of same-sex civil unions last week. New exclusive poll numbers show Utahns are divided on this issue.
Supporters of gay rights held a vigil to thank the governor for his stand on civil unions. Conservatives spoke out too and said when it comes to gay rights the governor does not speak for them.
“Our community needs to heal. We’ve had some divisive debates,” Huntsman said.
A new poll by Dan Jones and Associates for KSL-TV and the Deseret News shows one-third of Utahns now have a less-favorable opinion of the governor, but his overall approval rating remains at 80 percent. As for civil unions, 47 percent support them and 42 percent oppose them.
We also asked Utahns who support civil unions why they do. The greatest percentage says it’s a matter of fairness and equal rights, not an alternative to marriage for gay couples. Like Schertz, many support civil unions for the legal and financial benefits.
It is, I think, fairly significant that in Utah, the home of the Mormon Church, the Governor can came out in favor of civil unions and clearly not pay political price. Moreover, there appears to be strong and growing support in the state for at least this first step on the road to marriage equality.
It is also, I think a sign that times are changing and that previous attitudes toward homosexuals are fading, faster than some may have thought.
Additionally, the fact that Huntman remains overwhelmingly popular depsite his stance is a sign that opposition to gay marriage is not going to be the hot-button political issue that is has been in the past, and that some hoped it would be in the future.