With Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. getting ready to go to China, Lt. Governor Gary Herbert is getting ready to step into place. He says that there will be continuity, but the things I, personally, liked about Huntsman are absent in Herbert. I like Huntsman's stances on the environment and gay rights. Those are the biggest disagreements between Herbert and Huntsman — and the things that, here in Utah, are most likely to see support for Herbert to change the line. This is especially true with respect to partner rights. The Salt Lake Tribune breaks it down for partner rights:
But on the high-profile issue of gay rights, Herbert signaled a swing to the right.
He said he opposed civil unions for gays and strongly supported Amendment 3, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. He also said he has not been involved in any discussion on the Common Ground Initiative, which would have granted basic rights such as hospital visits and inheritance to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
“I supported Amendment 3, and I'll just leave it at that,” he said.
Huntsman, by contrast, had endorsed civil unions and backed the other parts of the Common Ground Initiative.
I think this is too bad, since, for some reason, this is the one issue that the legislature and the good people of the state of Utah are not taking direction from the LDS Church, which has stated publicly that it is not opposed to partner rights for gays, and legal other rights (but not marriage). It's kind of ironic that in Utah, where people are still sensitive about legal rights they were denied more than 100 years ago, legal rights are being denied to a segment of the population.
I also think that Herbert will likely shift away from Huntman's good work in terms of the environment. I've been proud that our governor has been a leader here in the mountain West on environmental issues. I doubt that Gary Herbert will offer that kind of leadership. In fact, since he has already expressed a desire to run next year in the special election to choose a governor, I have a feeling he will work to define his position as different from Huntsman's in these areas as a way to build political capital.
What do you think about Gary Herbert?