Presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman on Wednesday backed away from an apparent endorsement of gay marriage.

Huntsman, who on Tuesday formally declared for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination at a press conference held in New Jersey near the Statue of Liberty, has previously supported recognizing gay and lesbian couples with civil unions.

When reporters on Tuesday asked the former Utah governor whether as president he would attempt to override a gay marriage law in New York with a constitutional amendment banning such marriages, the 51-year-old Republican replied, “I would respect the state's decision on that,” The Huffington Post reported.

But Huntsman reversed course on Wednesday during an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe.

The GOP moderate said: “I think redefining marriage is something that would be impossible and it's something I would not be in favor of. But I believe, just subordinate to marriage we have not done an adequate job in the area of equality and reciprocal rights. I've spoken out about that, my support of civil unions, some people like it, some people don't.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page.)

President Barack Obama appointed Huntsman, a Mormon, to Ambassador to China, a post he left in April.

Among declared GOP candidates, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson also supports civil unions and openly gay Fred Karger supports gay marriage.