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Support for Marriage Equality Sees Huge Jump in Utah


By Matt Baume

New polls show a dramatic shift in public opinion following marriage equality in Utah. But that’s hasn’t stopped the Supreme Court from blocking weddings — for now. We have new details about cases in Arizona, Missouri, and West Virginia. Plus, legislators introduce a new marriage ban in Indiana, but with fewer backers than expected.

Marriage equality is now on hold in Utah, but public support continues to rise. The US Supreme Court ruled that marriages must halt while the case makes its way through the appeals process. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals will receive briefs over the next few weeks, and then hear oral argument possibly as soon as March.

In the mean time, organizers are preparing to bolster their defense of last month’s pro-equality ruling. The National Center for Lesbian Rights has just joined the Utah case as a co-counsel. NCLR has successfully litigated numerous marriage suits, including the case that brought marriage equality to California in 2008.

It’s been about two years since we had an opinion poll in Utah on this issue. But a new survey shows a dramatic increase in public support, with 41 percent favoring marriage, 24 percent for civil unions, and just 31 percent opposed to any relationship recognition.

Arizona could be the next state to make marriage news. There’s a new lawsuit there, and Attorney Shawn Aiken is seeking a trial on the merits. That means providing testimony and evidence in the 10th circuit, just as AFER did in the 9th circuit with the Prop 8 case.

Legislators in Indiana have introduced a long-expected constitutional marriage ban. Although the bill has lost supporters since its last vote, it’s likely to pass and head to voters this fall.

There’s a new lawsuit in Missouri, but this time it’s from anti-gay groups. They’re suing the state over a policy that recognizes out-of-state licenses for tax purposes. Missouri’s tax laws are complicated: they’re tied to the federal government, which recognizes licenses. But the state also prohibits relationship recognition. Now it’s up to a judge to reconcile that contradiction.

Expect major news in several cases over the next few weeks. We have a conference this week in West Virginia, where three couples are suing for the freedom to marry. AFER’s case against Virginia’s marriage ban will get a hearing on January 30. And a case against Michigan’s marriage ban has a hearing coming up on February 25.


  • 1. Brendan  |  January 13, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Are you saying that Arizona is in the 10th Circuit because it's not, it's in the Ninth?

  • 2. Weaver  |  January 13, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    I was mystified by this as well Brendan. Arizona IS in he 9th Circuit.

  • 3. Dann  |  January 13, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    Lately, there seems to be a number of errors in reporting ME related stories on this blog.

  • 4. Brad  |  January 14, 2014 at 7:29 am

    Come on Utah, catch up with equality already!

  • 5. FYoung  |  January 14, 2014 at 8:38 am

    I'm not sure if this is the same poll, but the following poll by the Salt Lake Tribune shows a tie with 48% support and 48% opposition for same marriage, with 72% support for civil unions:

  • 6. Bruno71  |  January 14, 2014 at 11:48 am

    That is an amazing result, even if it weren't totally accurate. In Utah, of all places.

  • 7. StraightDave  |  January 14, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Some fascinating stuff in this poll. I'm a numbers geek, so I can't help myself.

    Q2: should CU or DP be allowed? (% voting Yes)
    Age 50+: 67%
    Republicans: 64%
    Mormons: 65%
    Statewide: 72 Yes, 25 No

    (I know I'll get flack for this….)
    This tells me there is some kind of sense of recognition fairness (in *their* eyes), and are more hung up on the M-word. While obviously not equal, it's not quite straight-out homophobe, either. Ignorant, perhaps. Poorly-informed, certainly! Not on our side, definitely. Haters?? Hmmmmm. These #'s look different than I recall from other states. Kind of high for those categories.

  • 8. StraightDave  |  January 14, 2014 at 9:28 am

    (Part 2)
    Q3: Support or oppose *any* legal recognition of same-sex relationships?
    Statewide: 37% Oppose

    And yet in Q2, only 25% said No to CU/DP.

    Does that mean a good chunk of those opposing any relationship whatsoever are perfectly OK with CU/DP? 12% out of the 37% is about 1/3 of them apparently making such a contradictory claim.

    I thought the questions in this poll were extremely simple, clear, fair, and untainted. That should have led to a more rational result than this. I'm not so sure a lot of people know what they think anymore, especially in a state like Utah that just had its eggs scrambled..

  • 9. StraightDave  |  January 14, 2014 at 9:33 am

    (Part 3)
    Married SS couples allowed to adopt children?
    45% Yes
    45% No

    Un-married SS couples allowed to adopt children?
    26% Yes
    64% No

    That tells me they recognize this is not about parenting or gender or a SS "environment", per se. But they very clearly see that stability of the relationship is the key factor. I was very surprised by this one. UT almost got some grudging credit for sanity and intelligence (in a relative sense).

  • 10. FYoung  |  January 14, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Another thing I find puzzling about the Salt Lake Tribune poll is that it doesn't show a big generation gap.

  • 11. StraightDave  |  January 14, 2014 at 9:56 am

    ..nor gender gap. The biggest break is Mormon vs non-Mormon , or Rep vs Dem which might almost be the same thing.

  • 12. Bruno71  |  January 14, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Polling has been so over-the-place in its demographic breakdowns on the issue. I've seen other polls in the past that have men and women dividing on the issue with similar or same numbers, so this may not be that unusual.

  • 13. SoCal_Dave  |  January 14, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    What I find most interesting is the 36% who say their views on same-sex marriage have changed. Assuming most of that is evolution, not devolution, that is encouraging.

  • 14. Steve  |  January 14, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    I have even less respect for people who are for CU/DPs, but against same-sex marriage. It means they don't care about the legal issues, but just want some way for gay couples to me be made inferior or for them to feel superior. The practical result is better, but the morality behind it is just as reprehensible.

  • 15. Mike in Baltimore  |  January 14, 2014 at 11:15 am

    What puzzles me is that 41% support ME while 24% favor CUs.

    Is it feasible that 1/3 or more of those favoring CUs would accept ME (maybe even begrudgingly) if the choice was ME or nothing? Apparently, the pollsters don't think that such a scenario is feasible.

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