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Poll shows increased support for same-sex marriage in Utah

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The Washington Blade is reporting that a new poll shows a 13 point increase in support for marriage equality in Utah, though a majority of Utahns are still in opposition. According to the results, 41% back same-sex marriage, while 24% back civil unions, and 31% say there should be no legal recognition for same-sex couples.

The poll was conducted after the federal district court’s ruling declaring Utah’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, but before the stay was put in place. The shift could signal a change in the way people think of relationship recognition for same-sex couples following the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision:

The 13-point jump in the more recent survey compared to the most recent BYU poll reveals that new support for marriage equality came entirely from those who previously supported only civil unions. Opposition to marriage equality also grew from 29 percent to 31 percent.

Baker said he thinks the poll demonstrates a shift in opinion among Utah voters to support same-sex marriage following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June against Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.

“A 13-point bump signifies that Utah voters realize the world hasn’t ended with the repeal of DOMA and recognizing same-sex marriages is the right thing to do,” Baker said.

According to the report, these Google polls are considered accurate by polling experts, and basically track the rapid shift in public opinion across the country on the issue of marriage equality:

Google consumer surveys are deemed accurate by statistics experts. As Baker notes in his blog posting in which he published the poll results, statistics guru Nate Silver ranked them second overall in terms of reliability and lack of bias during the 2012 presidential election.

Scott Barclay, a senior scholar in public policy at the Williams Institute at University of California, Los Angeles, said the new poll is consistent with earlier public opinion estimates on rising support for marriage equality throughout the states.

“Support for marriage equality generally has been consistently rising in the last 20 years, but current research at the Williams Institute finds that the rate of support for marriage equality at both the national level and within almost all states appears to be increasing much more rapidly in the last four years than at any previous point in time,” Barclay said.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the Utah case soon; the first brief is due on January 27.

Help us travel to Denver this spring to cover oral arguments in the Utah marriage equality case. You won’t regret it, and you can help EqualityOnTrial be a part of history in the making. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to EqualityOnTrial in the new year to help us continue this mission–any amount helps!


  • 1. Seth From Maryland  |  January 9, 2014 at 10:34 am


    A bill legalizing same-sex civil unions has been approved by the Senate of Chile, The Santiago Times reports:

    ChileSenators voted in favor of the Life Partner Agreement (AVP) late Tuesday evening with 28 votes in favor, six against and two abstentions. The bill will now pass to a constitutional assembly before returning to Congress on Jan. 20.

    The country’s leading LGBTQ organization hailed the outcome as significant step toward passing a law which “the majority of the country” wants.

    “We are happy for this significant progress towards bettering conditions and equality for all families, regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identification of its members,” a Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movilh) statement read. “Today we have made one more step in the struggle for civil unions, which we began a decade ago. What was a dream is now becoming real.”

    The bill had languished in legislative waters for two years due to right-wing opposition, as well as other concerns that the bill could eventually lead to gay marriage. Incoming President-elect Michelle Bachelet (below right) ran on a platform which promised to send a same-sex marriage bill to Congress following an “open debate” on the issue.

    BacheletBut Movilh remains skeptical of the former president as well, as spokesman Oscar Rementería told The Santiago Times early Tuesday.

    “When Michelle Bachelet was last president [2006-2010] she promised three things regarding sexual equality, none of which her administration delivered,” he said. “As such, we cannot have complete confidence that she is going to deliver what she promises this time around.”

    It remains to be seen if the bill will become law before President Sebastián Piñera leaves office in March.

  • 2. Seth From Maryland  |  January 9, 2014 at 10:35 am

  • 3. Bruno71  |  January 9, 2014 at 11:17 am

    About what I'd expect, maybe a little on the low side actually. Consider that 34% of Utah residents voted against Amendment 3 in 2004…over 9 years ago.

  • 4. Stefan  |  January 9, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Amendment 3 also banned civil unions too remember.

  • 5. Anthony  |  January 9, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Civil unions are a thing of the past now with the DOMA ruling. They aren't federally recognized.

  • 6. Bruno71  |  January 9, 2014 at 11:42 am

    A future federal administration could decide to federally recognize civil unions. It'd be an underhanded way for a Republican administration to undermine the marriage equality movement, and I wouldn't put it past them. On the other hand, they're probably too knee-jerk and stupid to do it.

  • 7. Anthony  |  January 9, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Well if the SCOTUS ends this in June of 2015 then that is pretty much moot.

  • 8. Bruno71  |  January 9, 2014 at 11:45 am

    It's a guess at this point. My feeling is they want the pot to percolate past 2015…2017, or 2018 (within 5 years of the prop 8 case) at the latest.

  • 9. StraightDave  |  January 9, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    They only have so much control over this. The first anti-equality ruling that shows up with no peripheral issues dangling from it, their tap-dancing days are over.

  • 10. Lymis  |  January 9, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    They could try. But they'd have to fight the battle over why it's necessary to create an unprecedented new federal legal relationship for the express purpose of denying marriage to gay people – or else have both marriage and civil unions open to all couples, which would only push the "what is your justification for denying it to gay couples?" question down a level to the states that similarly refused to allow marriage.

    It might be an interim step, but they couldn't do it for long. Imagine if they tried to create "interracial unions" and ban interracial couples from marriage. Explain why that isn't racist.

  • 11. Eric  |  January 9, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Not really, Congress has used spouse in too many laws. The Executive can't change that.

  • 12. Bruno71  |  January 9, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    I'm not sure that "spouse" would legally preclude recognition of CU's/DP's. "Husband" and "wife" yeah.

  • 13. Dr. Z  |  January 10, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    There may still be some niche applications for them but I agree they no longer make sense for their original purpose.

    The one application they make sense for now is when you want to establish legal ties at the state level that are invisible at the federal level. For instance a senior couple, both widowed and drawing social security survivors benefits from previous marriages, could decide to enter into a CU/DP as a way of maximizing their benefits.

  • 14. Rick O.  |  January 11, 2014 at 6:05 am

    Reread Windsor's overarching emphasis on state's rights, and consider the stay just granted Utah. Not noway, nohow is the current court going to rule in our favor in 2015. The best I hope for is that the 10th uphold Shelby's decision – which I doubt after the signal that was just sent – and the divisions on the court behind the scenes result in them declining to hear the appeal, leaving the 10th open for equality.
    Bluntly, we need a lot of old farts to die off, and polls change.

  • 15. Zack12  |  January 11, 2014 at 6:15 am

    There were other parts in Windsor as well,such as targeting a group of people and banning them from marriage equality for no good reason.
    As for the stay,the Supreme Court issuing says nothing to the 10th circuit on how to rule.
    I don't get why so many people are willing to give up because a stay was granted.

  • 16. Anthony  |  January 11, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    People are completely misreading what is happening. SCOTUS issued the stay because they are going to make the ultimate determination whether sexual orientation is entitled to heightened scrutiny. I believe that is where Kennedy is going to rule next. He can't just overturn the laws of 33 states without a really good reason.

  • 17. Richard Weath erwax  |  January 11, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    SCOTUS would also like to have at least one or two circuit court opinions supporting them.

  • 18. ebohlman  |  January 11, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    And I've got a hunch they'd prefer that at least one of those opinions is backed up by a trial record, so I suspect that either the MI or PA case, both of which are going to trial, will be the one most likely to wind up going all the way.

  • 19. Zack12  |  January 11, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    MI would be more likely or VA's as their bans are so harsh not even POA's or private contracts are allowed.

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