Preeminence vs Partisanship - Utah Gov. Huntsman: Equal rights are important. NOM? Not so much.

Worth a look:

General impression:  NOM is in serious trouble - derision hurts, but irrelevance is fatal.

Random notes:

Interesting framing from Richard Piatt of LDS-owned KSL:  "Given the past power of the ultra-right on this issue ..."

Huntsman:  "If it equates to equal rights for all of our citizens, it's a conversation we need to have."

Lisa Riley Roche (Deseret News):  "Do you support that [NOM] campaign that seems to be suggesting there's an increasing threat to the American way of life by people seeking equal rights?"

Huntsman:  "I haven't given that [campaign] a second's thought."

Ouch.  

Irrelevance.

But then Huntsman pivots with a nod to (what he seems to agree/suggest are) supposedly more pressing concerns (food, shelter, clothing and the like).  A false choice?  Sure.  Am I bothered?  Not so much.  If/when Huntsman decides to run, Steve Schmidt will be on staff.  This Steve.  

Moving on ...

Huntsman:  "The Republican Party needs to let a thousand flowers bloom ... [allow] preeminence [to] stand taller than partisanship ... and see where that takes us ..."

Amen to that, Guv.  Amen.

P.S. Speaking of Steve Schmidt, this recent NOM press release exemplifies, for me, all that's wrong with Maggie's and Brian's and the ultra-right's approach:

PRINCETON, NJ, April 17 Christian Newswire -- Today, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) responded to Steve Schmidt on CNN:

"Steve Schmidt's first national TV address this week is part of a coordinated campaign to manufacture a message point: Americans are ready to give up on the marriage issue. I'm not worried about this press spin, because the people who believe it are going to wake up to find the political landscape is very different than they imagine," said Brian Brown, executive director of NOM.  "People are responding very powerfully to our ads and other messaging because they don't want politicians imposing gay marriage on them or their children or their grandchildren."

"Steven Schmidt?  Isn't this the guy who ran a failed presidential campaign, who advised a failed governor (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who insiders say was recently fired by Meg Whitman?" Brown continued, "Sure, we can understand why Steve would be looking for a way to make some new friends -- but why would anyone take his advice on how to win elections at this point?"

"Imagine what America -- or the GOP -- will be like when anyone who believes marriage is the union of husband and wife can be excluded from high office, or public influence, in the way we now exclude bigots and racists. What does that do to the electoral map?" Brown asked.

"There is no conservative case for gay marriage.  Gay marriage represents the overthrow of the core idea of marriage in our tradition and every faith tradition. And it will put government on the side of excluding traditional faith communities from the public square," said Maggie Gallagher, President of NOM.

To schedule an interview with Maggie Gallagher, President, or Brian Brown, Executive Director of NOM, contact Elizabeth Ray (x 130, eray@crcpublicrelations.com) or Mary Beth Hutchins (x.105, mhutchins@crcpublicrelations.com) by calling 703-683-5004.

So, if you happen to work for a media outlet that might benefit from an in-person display of NOM's increasingly ugly and shrill appeals to fear, I guess you now know the numbers to call and the folks to email.  Enjoy.  But, your professional predicament aside, on a personal level, just talking among ourselves, before you decide to make that call or send that email to Liz or Mary at CRC, please know that I would enjoy reading your admission (even if merely posted anonymously in comments here) that you, too, also realize just how sad and pathetic NOM's schtick has become.  I mean, at this point, who among us still believes that NOM have any useful advice left to give regarding how to win elections?  I mean, at this point, even our colleagues in the Utah press have gathered that they don't.  

Why?  Because since their Pyrrhic victory in California, NOM have done nothing but lose.

Why?  Because, at this point, NOM have become ringleaders of the sort of media circus that any right-minded conservative abhors and any serious Republican recognizes as the central challenge facing the party:  how to best usher their clowns offstage to the benefit of both the GOP and the country.

Final thought:  Last time I checked, Steve was not a member of the press, Brian.  But you insinuate otherwise.  

Why?  Because you're a clown, Mr. Brown.

There's more...

William Duncan of Utah is in Maine this week to Testify against LD 1020

I noticed that William Duncan from Utah's Marriage Law Foundation and The Sutherland Institute will be testifying in Maine today at the public hearing for LD 1020.  Whenever I read Bill's stuff, the objection that invariably comes to mind is Thomas Jefferson's regarding sclerotic institutions:

"I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the same coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."

-- from a letter to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1810

An objection echoed on this page of Turn Maine Blue.

In any case, here's Bill speaking at a Sutherland Institute event:

Admittedly, other than Bill's suggestion that only God-fearing (presumably monogamous?) straight couples care about the next generation, there's not much to that clip.  I'm just dropping it here as a heads up for those who might be interested in recognizing Bill in a crowd (and no, that's not meant to sound ominously threatening - I'm sincerely suggesting it might be interesting for anyone able to attend the hearing today to recognize and politely engage Bill if the opportunity should present itself).

What I'm really wondering is how most folks in Maine would react to Sutherland's - i.e., Bill's employer's - stated position in the "Common Ground"debate with Equality Utah?

"We disagree not only with your views, but with every motivation that goes into the [Common Ground Initiative] bills ... Finding any common ground is impossible ... Sexual orientation is an illusion ... Your [the LGBTQ community] idea of rights is an illusion ... You think a piece of paper will make you a family ... You think that love makes you a family."
Rough stuff.  And needless to say, it's more than likely not the tack that Bill will be taking in today's hearing.

As my readers know, I grew up Mormon.  And I count many kind and decent Mormons among my family and friends.  Bill Duncan and the crew at Sutherland are also Mormon, but kind and decent they're not.  What kind of person flies around the country interfering with the ability of families to enjoy the legal protections of civil marriage?

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Around the Country, Calls for Lawmakers to Address "Real Problems, Not Imaginary Ones"

As several states enter critical phases in their legislative sessions, the debate for one of the most controversial election reforms continues to dominate headlines and legislative hearings. This year, more than 26 states introduced legislation to go above and beyond federal election law relating to voter ID, despite near consensus among voting rights advocates that it hurts the process far more than it helps. Last week, the hysteria around voter ID reached an all time high in six states, evoking public concern from advocates and citizens alike.

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Utah's Conservative GOP Gov. Backs Civil Unions

I can't say that this isn't pretty surprising.

The republican governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman Jr., is dropping a big, fat political bombshell right in the middle of the state capitol.

He is endorsing same sex civil unions, and that has made Huntsman a hero to some Utahns and a traitor to others.

[...]

The governor told ABC 4 he's been thinking about this issue for years, and, he adds that now is the time to find common ground.

"I believe in traditional marriage. I always have. But I also believe there's more we can do in terms of enhancing those individual rights for others," said Huntsman.

On Tuesday, ABC 4 was not able to get a on-camera comment from senator Chris Buttars, but he was heard to mutter on the Senate floor, "Shocked. Shocked."

Marc Ambinder lays out the electoral math, noting that this move would certainly have an effect on Jon Huntsman's shot at the White House in 2012, should that be something that the Governor is looking at. But taking a step back, getting away from the politics for a moment, this is pretty stunning news. The conservative Governor of the third most Republican state in the country (at least in terms of John McCain's support in 2008), a practicing Mormon, supports civil unions for homosexual couples.

Ambinder says that the bill Huntsman is supporting has little chance of passage. But still. This feels like it is a major development, a tipping point.

There's more...

Utah Think Tank Challenges "Common Ground" with "Sacred Ground" (UPDATED)

As a response to post Prop 8 comments from local LDS Church leaders and a supportive poll of Utah voters on an openness to equal rights for the LGBT community, several Utah legislators -- working with Equality Utah -- put together the Common Ground Initiative, in an attempt to create a dialog, and encourage Mormon leaders to make good on their statements.

In response, The Sutherland Institute, Utah's leading (only) think tank and Heritage Foundation offspring -- infamous here for holding an "Earth Day" event hosted by Roy Innis and other energy industry hacks -- has pieced together their own campaign to counter the adult discussions with petty divisiveness titled Sacred Ground. (pdf)  They've scheduled several "State of the Union - Stand Up for Marriage" events here locally (targeting bloggers, legislators, and local media) hosted by Utah's worst Wing-nut (and believe me that's saying a lot) LaVar Christensen (Direct Quote: "Tolerance is the religion of people who no longer believe in anything.") , and completing the campaign with a published book and YouTube campaign.

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