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Gov. Huntsman: The Best Friend a Gay Ever Had

Some worry Utahs gays are slashing our fluttery wrists now that Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.--who is being made out to be the gays' best friend, like, ever--is moving to China.

Now, personally, I'm reluctant to let Huntsman go. As Utah governors go, he's been fairly level-headed and has managed to avoid any major disasters. Utah could do (and has done) much worse than good ol' Jon. And the Republican Party is, right now, pretty much bereft of civil, rational voices like Huntsman's.

Still, I'm curious where this idea that Huntsman is so very, very double-ding-dang-pro-gay has come from. Mostly, being "pro-gay" seems to be an accusation hurled at him by the radical-right wingnuts who have taken over the GOP, based on a comment he once made that he wasn't necessarily opposed to civil unions.

OK, that was nice. I was surprised to hear a Utah governor go on record as not opposing Marriage Lite, that lukewarm substitute for real equality that says, "Hey, gays! You're not quite as good as the rest of us, but I have enough heart to recognize that we share a wispy thread of common humanity, so here's a bone for y'all to chew on!"

And, like I said, I appreciated it. Huntsman is pro-gay in the way all but the most batshit crazy right-wing fucks are pro-gay. He recognized the fact that, like it or not, we exist in this society.

Huntsman also didn't advocate stringing gays by our thumbs and tossing us in concentration camps. That was nice, too.

What would have been nicer would have been if he had either 1. vetoed any of the draconian anti-gay bullshit that emanated from the Legislature, or 2. even faintly criticized any of the draconian anti-gay bullshit that emanated from the Legislature. He didn't do that.

But at least he didn't actively try to thwart us at every turn. Nice.

Oh, no! Herbert is coming! Herbert is coming!

When Gary Herbert is in charge, will Utah gays really be in such dire--pardon the homonym--"straits?"

Yes, Herbert is on the record as opposing equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian Utahns. Horrors! In that respect, he's much like all the other Utah governors in recent memory:

  • Olene Walker (2003-2005) [After making up her mind]: "It will be most unfortunate if Utah didn't pass [the anti-gay state constitutional] Amendment 3. At this time, I am supporting Amendment 3."
  • Mike Leavitt (1993-2003) [Weaseling about badly needed anti-discrimination legislation he refused to support]: "I don't know that there needs to be a proactive statement on it. I don't know that you improve the situation by doing that."
  • Norm Bangerter (1985-1993) was no friend to the gays, either, as I recall, and went out of his way to snub our community at every turn.

So its same-old, same-old. I've never expected any Utah governor--who is, after all, expected to be the Legislature's lickspittle--to be anything better than a frothing, rabid homophobe. It was sort of a nice surprise that Olene had to think about it first, and Huntsman was willing to make abstract concessions.

But our community has never depended on the help of any Utah governor for the progress we have made.

Who knows? Herbert may exceed expectations. He may also recognize our right to exist in the world. If so, then great. The bar's not set very high at all.

But, if not, count me less than terrified.