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Huntsman isn't the only one

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.)
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.)Getty Images

Last week, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) endorsed marriage equality, which seemed like a modest breakthrough. Sure, the failed Republican presidential candidate is to the left of his party's median, but when a high-profile GOP voice announces his support for same-sex marriage, it's evidence of an evolving culture war.

Perhaps more importantly, Huntsman isn't alone. With the U.S. Supreme Court set to hear challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Prop 8, the number of Republicans willing to endorse marriage equality is suddenly on the upswing.

Dozens of prominent Republicans -- including top advisers to former President George W. Bush, four former governors and two members of Congress -- have signed a legal brief arguing that gay people have a constitutional right to marry. [...]

Among them are Meg Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 when she ran for California governor; Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York; Stephen J. Hadley, a Bush national security adviser; Carlos Gutierrez, a commerce secretary to Mr. Bush; James B. Comey, a top Bush Justice Department official; David A. Stockman, President Ronald Reagan's first budget director; and Deborah Pryce, a former member of the House Republican leadership from Ohio who is retired from Congress.

As of last night, the list of signers was up to 75 Republicans, including GOP "officials and influential thinkers." The list does not yet include other high-profile Republicans who've publicly expressed support for marriage equality, including former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The extent to which one is pleased by this is a matter of perspective. Should one see a glass half full or a glass half empty?

The glass-half-full contingent will note that this kind of list would have been largely impossible as recently as a decade ago, and reinforces just how much progress has been made in a very short period of time. The "Republicans for marriage equality" club was infinitesimally small up until very recently, and now it's not.

The glass-half-empty crowd will note that there are 30 sitting Republican governors, and 45 sitting Republican senators, and the grand total of them who signed on to this brief is zero. There are 232 sitting Republican members of the U.S. House, and only two have stepped up to put their names on this list -- 0.8% of the caucus.

Still, from where I sit, given the radicalization of Republican politics in recent years, I'm inclined to embrace progress where I can find it.