Posted By Eric Ethington on January 6, 2014
After Judge Shelby’s ruling on December 20, striking down Amendment 3, Utah’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, several local news outlets immediately launched online polls and asked their viewers what they thought of the ruling. Here are the results:
KSL 5 TV (incidentally, a station owned by the LDS ((Mormon)) church), was the first to launch a poll, on the same night the ruling came down. The language they chose for the question was rather suspicious, reading “If a measure was on the ballot today, would you define marriage as between one man and one woman?” Far from the neutral language typically used in polling questions, one could almost say it’s pushing people to vote against same-sex marriage. However, to no avail it seems. With 21,326 votes cast, the poll went 60%-40% in favor or same-sex marriage.
Fox 13 News was the second outlet with a poll in the field, launching theirs shortly after KSL’s on December 20. This time, the question offered several different options: “Utah’s Amendment Three, which defined marriage as solely between a man and a woman, was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge Friday. Several same-sex couples were granted marriage licenses. What do you think ought to be done regarding the issue?” Respondents were given the option of answering “No,” “No, marriage should be solely between a man and a woman,” “Yes, same-sex marriages should be allowed in Utah,” “Government should have less say in social issues like marriage,” or “I don’t know/don’t care.” 29,830 votes were cast, and the clear winner (with 72.79 percent of the vote) was “Yes, same-sex marriages should be allowed in Utah.”
Apparently, KSL was not happy enough with their initial poll, and decided to run a second poll on January 3. This time, the language was written much more straight forward: “Do you think same-sex marriage should be legal in Utah?” Respondents were given the option of “Yes,” “No” or “Unsure.” 8,909 votes were counted, and once again same-sex marriage was the clear winner with 77 percent of the vote.
Obviously, none of these polls were conducted with scientific or strict polling standards, so the results aren’t going to be perfect. But while so much is being made of the fact that Amendment 3 was originally passed by Utah voters in 2004 with a 66 percent majority, it’s apparent things have shifted heavily in favor of LGBTQ equality. That was in 2004, a time when the majority of the country may have voted the same way and Gallup polls showed only 42 percent favor of same-sex marriages. But attitudes towards recognizing equality for same-sex couples have shifted vastly since then, and the most recent polling from the Washington Post and ABC show 58 percent t of the country in favor, and Gallup shows 52 percent. Keep in mind, these polls are strictly about same-sex marriage. Once expanded to include lesser-levels of recognition, such as civil unions or domestic partnerships, the numbers jump even higher. The last official poll in Utah, conducted by the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University (BYU) back in July of 2012, showed 71 percent of the Beehive state is in favor of some form of legal recognition—whether that’s marriage or civil unions. That number is likely even higher today, as attitudes shifted significantly in favor of LGBTQ equality after the Supreme Court ruled on U.S. v Windsor, which struck down DOMA, and the numbers will likely jump again in the next few months as Utahns realize that the 900+ couples in Utah who have already been married aren’t actually destroying the state, or making three-headed cats appear in the sewers (or whatever else conservatives think might happen).
There is one other Utah poll worth pointing out, also written by KSL. This one came out on December 19, the day before Judge Shelby’s historic ruling, and asked Utahns whether or not they would favor a non-discrimination law, making it illegal to fire someone from their job or evict them from their home simply because they happen to be LGBTQ. The law has been proposed every year for the last five years in the Utah Legislature, but has been shot down quickly every time (in 2013 it went further than ever, passing out of committee before being left to die on the Senate floor without a debate or vote). 3,540 voted, and 91 percent of them support the bill. Three different scientific polls over the last several years have shown support for non-discrimination at over 70 percent, and nationwide there isn’t a single congressional district in the country that doesn’t have majority support for the laws. Of course, whether state lawmakers will listen to their constituents is another thing.