Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman offered a vague reaction Thursday to the Obama administration's newly announced effort to promote LGBT equality overseas.
The Washington Blade asked Huntsman, who was President Obama's ambassador to China, during a news conference whether "advocating for LGBT people is consistent with principles of faith" and whether a Huntsman administration would follow suit.
"I believe in fairness. I think that should be a guiding principle of all Americans," replied Huntsman, who supports civil unions and doesn't support repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. Still, Huntsman said, "I believe in equality under the law."
Huntsman seemed to imply that rather than focus on other countries' policies, the U.S. would be better served by modeling a positive example.
"I believe that, from this country, we can lead by example," he said, according to a transcript from the Blade. "I believe that we are a shining light the rest of the world looks to. I found that to be the case living overseas four times. And when we do it right in this country, we exude values that the rest of the world seems to watch and emulate -- values of individual dignity, liberty, democracy, human rights and open markets."
But he doesn't seem to think the U.S. is already model enough.
"I think we ought to focus on getting our own house in order here in terms of how we treat one another, the respect we feel for one another, getting our economy back on track and fixing our core," he said. "If we can do that, I think the rest of the world will pay us a little more attention."
Huntsman's answer contrasts with reaction from Rick Perry and Rick Santorum, who both quickly condemned the Obama administration's strategy, which was announced in a historic speech by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton before the United Nations. She argued it's wrong that LGBT people are "routinely arrested, beaten, terrorized, even executed" and stressed that "gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights."