Utah gubernatorial hopeful Peter Cooke indicated that not all Democrats stand with the national party on marriage equality, declaring his opposition Monday while also vowing to oppose civil unions and abortion in almost all cases.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports on the candidate’s embrace of “Utah values” in his campaign against Governor Gary Herbert. Cooke said that his Mormon faith, shared by more than 60% of the state, influenced his position, but he joins the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in supporting a statewide anti-discrimination law.
"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," he said, according to the Tribune. "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."
The Democratic Party’s Platform Committee voted over the weekend to include “marriage equality” for the first time, all but assuring the language will be ratified at the national convention in Charlotte, N.C. next month. Analysts anticipated the high-profile but largely symbolic move could have an impact on Democrats in more conservative states, including U.S. Senate contests in Missouri, Montana and Virginia.
In the case of Utah, Cooke and other Democrats need to appeal to an overwhelmingly Republican electorate to win. A Brigham Young University poll cited by the Tribune found in February that 43% of Utahns support civil unions and 28% support marriage equality, numbers far behind national polls including Gallup that show majority support for same-sex marriage, with super-majorities of Democrats in favor.
The Tribune reported that Cooke said he plans to vote for President Barack Obama despite their differences on the marriage equality question. He shares his Mormon faith in common with Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee.