As governor, Huntsman caused a stir when he publicly expressed support for civil unions for same-sex couples and legislation aimed at preventing discrimination based on sexual identity and guaranteeing hospital visitation and other limited rights.
During his failed bid for the presidency, Huntsman repeatedly reiterated his support for marriage between a man and a woman.
But Balken said the Equality honor isn't about a single act or policy position.
"It's much more about a person's presence in the community and ability to create cultural and attitudinal change and truly their presence and their outward demonstration of Equality Utah's values," she said.
While still in office in Utah, the Huntsmans hosted the annual Log Cabin Republicans reception a gathering of gay and lesbian Republicans at the Governor's Mansion, and have attended Equality Utah's Allies Dinner in the past.
In addition to recognizing the Huntsmans, Equality Utah will honor artist Trevor Southey, Rev. Theresa Novak and her partner Anne Spatola, and the support group Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Idaho state Sen. Nicole LeFavour, who is running for Congress, will also speak at the event.