The Utah chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, an organization for gay, transgender and gay-friendly GOP members, has thanked Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. for his outspoken support for civil unions and for a set of bills designed to expand gay and transgender rights.
“We are especially excited by the public support the governor is showing toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered citizens of Utah,” wrote Melvin Nimer, the group’s president, in a media release.
Nimer explained that Utah Log Cabin Republicans have been “working with the governor for over a year on these issues,” and met with Huntsman and his staff to discuss how the governor could extend protections to the same-sex partners of state employees as recently as January.
“Log Cabin began these discussions last year before the 2008 legislative session began, and the group asked the governor at that time if he would be willing to issue executive orders allowing state GLBT employees to add their partner to their health insurance program and to their retirement programs, and to make it illegal to discriminate in state employment practices on the basis of sexual identity or gender identity,” the release read.
Local gay rights group Equality Utah’s Common Ground Initiative includes this executive order as well as a bill that would extend nondiscrimination workplace and housing protections to gay and transgender people.
In preparation to meet with Huntsman, Utah LCR said that it, along with Equality Utah, collected 12 similar executive orders passed by other governors and submitted them to Huntsman, along with the proposed language of each order.
“The governor has taken these proposals under advisement and will be meeting with Log Cabin, Equality Utah and other interested organizations after the legislative session is over to work on their possible implementation,” said the organization.
Since taking office in 2005, Huntsman has demonstrated support for Utah’s gay and transgender citizens. In the summer of 2008, according to Nimer, he became Utah’s first sitting governor to invite a gay organization — the Utah Log Cabin Republicans — to an open house at the Governor’s Mansion.