Kerry Eleveld’s overview of where the GOP presidential candidates stand on LGBT issues offers this interesting (and promising) anecdote about former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) consulting with the Log Cabin Republicans at the governor’s mansion in 2008. At the time, Huntsman was the first “sitting governor – let alone a Republican governor – [who] had invited anyone from the GLBT community into his office to discuss policy”:
At the time, a number of anti-LGBT measures had been plaguing the state legislature and the divisive signature campaign to place Proposition 8 on California’s ballot that year was in full swing with strong backing from the LDS church, which is headquarted in Salt Lake City.
Huntsman wondered how he could help improve the political climate for LGBT people in the state. “The first question he asked was, ‘What are the kids doing? What are the youth involved in? What problems do they have,’” recalls Nimer, who is president of LCR’s Utah chapter. “Then he came up with the idea of having a party at the mansion.”
The inaugural LGBT reception at the governor’s mansion was held that summer with more than 75 guests and has since become an annual event that now draws around 150 people.
As Eleveld explains, shortly after the meeting, Huntsman came out in support of civil unions and “a series of pro-LGBT measures known as the Common Ground Initiative aimed at securing basic rights for LGBT Utahans in areas such as employment, housing, transfer of benefits and medical-decision making.” He continues to speak out in favor of these positions on the campaign trail — although his somewhat contradictory stance on marriage equality is often left unchallenged by the media — and even reached out to LGBT groups in Utah after announcing his presidential bid.