from The New York Times
Jon M. Huntsman Jr. has a number of hurdles to overcome if he is to become the Republican nominee for president — including his service in President Obama’s administration as ambassador to China and his comparatively liberal positions on several issues.
But Mr. Huntsman’s positions on gay rights — while to the left of most of his opponents — are likely to be among the least of his concerns. In fact, Mr. Huntsman’s views on gay rights are very close to those of the typical Republican voter — closer than those of someone like Tim Pawlenty.
… Nevertheless, reporters — to say nothing of the candidates themselves — ought not to assume that Republican voters reflexively gravitate toward any and all positions against gay rights. Opinions on these issues are changing fairly rapidly, and the partisan divides are not as strong as those on economic policy.
A Gallup poll conducted last year found that 60 percent of Republicans — and 53 percent of self-described conservatives — support allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the military. (Several Republican candidates opposed last year’s repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and Mr. Pawlenty has pledged to reinstate it if he becomes president.) And a near-consensus of Americans — 87 percent in a December 2008 Newsweek survey — support protecting gays and lesbians from employment discrimination, an area where several Republican candidates have ambiguous positions.