Your RSS feesds or CNN browsing likely told you that earlier this week the Gov. of Utah (perhaps the most socially conservative state out of all 50) came out in support of civil unions, even though 4 out of 5 Utah citizens do not.
It was a strange moment, because for the first time ever, a Republican politician was accused of playing politics with a pro-gay position. In other words, opponents are claiming that Huntsman came out in support of civil unions simply because he wants to win votes for his potential Presidential run in 2012. It’s stunning, of course, because supporting civil union legislation has never been something that has been electorally positive for Republicans (or most Democrats), lest I remind you of the 0-30 record on stopping anti-gay marriage amendments, Prop 8 disaster, and abortion ban in Arkansas last year.
Nate Siler explains why it matters…
And a position in favor of civil unions will probably be an asset — perhaps a pretty significant one — in the general election, a litmus test that independents and younger voters will use to determine whether a Republican opponent is reasonable or a Palinosaur.
Or perhaps Hunstman, who is not running for re-election and has plenty of popularity to spare anyway, is simply expressing his conscience.
Either way, this strikes me as a pretty significant moment — and in its own quiet way, just as much as a cultural signifier as Proposition 8. The days in which bigotry can be exchanged for votes may be numbered.