According to a recent poll, a large
majority of Utahns support same-sex marriage.
The Deseret News/Hinckley
Institute of Politics survey released Thursday found that 72 percent
of respondents back such unions, while 23 percent remain opposed.
Utah voters in 2004 approved a
constitutional amendment that prohibits any same-sex “domestic
union” that includes “the same or substantially equivalent legal
effect” as marriage. The measure, which went into effect on January
1, 2005, was approved with 65.8 percent of the vote.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in
Utah since October 6, 2014, after a federal district court found that
gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry. The
following year, the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergerfell struck
down state laws and constitutional amendments that define marriage as
a heterosexual union.
Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley
Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, called the shift in
opinion in Utah “seismic.”
“For a state that less than 20 years
ago passed laws and a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex
marriage, there has been a seismic shift in opinion,” Perry
Pollsters asked 815 registered Utah
voters: “Do you agree or disagree that marriages between same-sex
couple should be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights
as traditional marriages?”
Only 14 percent of respondents said
that they “strongly disagree,” while 9 percent “somewhat
disagree.” Five percent answered “don't know.”
In 2014, when such unions became legal
in the state, 57 percent of Utahns were opposed.
“Now, it has majority support from
nearly every group across the political, demographic and religious
spectrum,” Perry said.
The survey also found majority support
for same-sex marriage among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, which remains opposed to such unions. The church
actively backed state amendments that prohibit same-sex marriage and
encouraged its members to vote for them.
The U.S. House in July approved The
Respect for Marriage Act with the support of 47 Republicans. Congress
took up the issue after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade,
threatening other rulings based on the right to privacy, such as its
landmark 2015 decision in Obergefell that legalized nationwide
same-sex marriage. The legislation would require states and the
federal government to recognize the marriages of gay couples.
The bill has languished in the Senate
as backers round up the necessary GOP votes to clear the chamber.
Utah Senator Mitt Romney has said that he remains undecided.
A vote on the bill is not expected
until after the midterm elections in November.