Equality Utah will honor former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and Mary Kaye Huntsman for their work in fostering civility and equal rights in the state.
“It’s a strong indication that the values and ideals of Equality Utah — those being respect and fairness and equitable treatment — are not values that belong only to one political party and one religious affiliation or sexual orientation or gender identity. They belong to all of us,” said Brandie Balken, executive director of Equality Utah.
The Huntsmans will be recognized and give remarks at Equality Utah’s annual Allies Dinner in September.
As governor, Huntsman caused a stir when he publicly expressed support for civil unions for same-sex couples and legislation aimed at preventing discrimination based on sexual identity and guaranteeing hospital visitation and other limited rights.
During his failed bid for the presidency, Huntsman repeatedly reiterated his support for marriage between a man and a woman.
But Balken said the Equality honor isn’t about a single act or policy position.
“It’s much more about a person’s presence in the community and ability to create cultural and attitudinal change and truly their presence and their outward demonstration of Equality Utah’s values,” she said.
While still in office in Utah, the Huntsmans hosted the annual Log Cabin Republicans reception — a gathering of gay and lesbian Republicans — at the Governor’s Mansion, and have attended Equality Utah’s Allies Dinner in the past.
In addition to recognizing the Huntsmans, Equality Utah will honor artist Trevor Southey, Rev. Theresa Novak and her partner Anne Spatola, and the support group Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Idaho state Sen. Nicole LeFavour, who is running for Congress, will also speak at the event.