Gov. Huntsman of Utah backs civil unions

Feb. 10, 2009 at 9:28 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- The Republican governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman, backs a proposal that would give same-sex couples the right to civil unions in the state.

A spokeswoman said Monday that Huntsman backs legalizing civil unions, as well as the Common Ground Initiative, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The initiative is a package of legislation on gay rights that is now two bills, down from four.

Polls show 70 percent of Utah voters oppose civil unions.

One part of the initiative, sponsored by Rep. Jackie Biskupski, a Salt Lake City Democrat, would have repealed a clause in Amendment 3 to the state Constitution that bans civil unions. Biskupski dropped that bill last week.

Lisa Roskelly, Huntsman's spokeswoman, said the governor has changed his mind since he endorsed Amendment 3 in 2004.

Jeff Reynolds of the Sutherland Institute, a conservative think tank in Salt Lake City, said Huntsman had to be "dragged to the altar on Amendment 3."

"Everyone has known since then that Governor Huntsman would rather be nice than right," Reynolds said.

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