After speaking out against full marriage equality, Utah Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Cooke responded to criticism by reaffirming his support for second-parent adoptions. In a post on his Facebook page, Cooke said, “To be clear, my position on gay adoption is the same as Mitt Romney’s: I support it because strong families matter and kids need homes.”
This support for family structures and homes would not extend to full equality and Facebook commentors were quick to point out the discrepancy.
“If strong families matter, why are you opposed to same-sex marriage?” Bob Henline wrote on the Facebook post.
“Oh, yay. You’re just like Mitt Romney. Exactly what I was hoping for,” wrote Misty Fowler.
However, supporters pointed out Cooke’s positions on queer rights issues were better than the current Republican governor, Gary Herbert.
“Before we get too angry over one position, look at the alternatives. Any democrat in Utah is going to be more conservative than other states, we have to take what we can get! Peter Cooke 2012,” wrote Matt Wilson.
Cooke was endorsed by Equality Utah, Utah’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender political action committee.
“Equality Utah is committed to achieving full equality for LGBT Utahns and their families. It is important to note that Utah currently has a constitutional amendment which bans marriage equality. Our policy priorities currently include nondiscrimination in housing and employment, anti-bullying and hazing, and easing the burden for LGBT families in life planning, property inheritance and the ability to protect their hard-earned assets,” said Equality Utah Executive Director Brandie Balken. “We have spoken with Peter Cooke in regards to his position on marriage equality and understand that it is reflective of the opinions of the majority of Utahns. While we are not in agreement with this position, as an endorsed candidate he joins us in supporting the policy areas in which we are currently working. Therefore, Equality Utah continues to support the Cooke/Rampton campaign.”
In an earlier interview with QSaltLake a Cooke campaign spokesperson said he would back a statewide nondiscrimination bill if elected but would not comment on adoption rights or marriage equality.
In a press conference, Cooke said he was purposefully distancing himself from the national party because of his own religious obligations.
“To me gay marriage is part of my religious belief and I support that and I respect other religious beliefs and I support and love those who are in the gay community,” Cooke said. “I think what needs to be done in Utah is for us to all live together, be compassionate. That’s what the Democratic Party is showing.”
His statements came just two days after the national Democratic Party voted to include marriage equality and defense of legal abortions in its platform.