Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman and his wife, Mary Kaye, were honored Thursday by the state's largest LGBT rights group, Equality Utah.

At the group's 11th annual Allies Dinner, more than 2,000 people gathered to pay tribute to Huntsman for his advocacy.

At the event, Huntsman reiterated his support for civil unions but stopped short of endorsing marriage for gay and lesbian couples, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

“What's important here is people having the conversation about inclusiveness and about fairness and about equality under the law,” he said. “It's hard to know what the wrapping looks like, what the definition and term happens to be, and each state might end up doing it a little differently, but the end point ought to be equality under the law.”

Huntsman, who briefly entered the GOP presidential nominating contest, first announced his support for civil unions in 2009.

“I did it because I fundamentally believe that equality is an American value. You take some slings and arrows, but I think maybe the community, after that, had some conversations and is still having those conversations. And do you make progress in terms of including everyone in the fabric of society? I think so,” he said.