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Support for civil unions skyrockets in Utah

Support of marriage equality is up seven points and support of civil unions is up 18 points in Utah since 2004, according to a new survey conducted by the Brigham Young University’s Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy.

While 72 percent of Utahns still oppose same-sex marriage, 57 percent oppose civil unions. During Utah’s Amendment 3 election initiative defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman, 25 percent of Utahns supported civil unions. More than 70 percent of Utahns now support some form of recognition for gay couples.

In 2004, 23 percent of Utah Republicans were in favor of civil unions. Now, more than 50 percent of Republicans express support.

In 2004, 31 percent of Democrats were in favor of civil unions while 55 percent supported gay marriage. Now, 72 percent of Democrats support full marriage equality for gays and lesbians. Nationally, more than 50 percent of Americans believe same-sex marriage should be legalized.

“In many ways I find (the poll) not surprising. It’s not just Utahns, but Americans, that see the prevention of rights for their neighbors, co-workers and family members as unjust. I think those conversations are helping us see changing attitudes,” said Brandie Balken, Equality Utah executive director. “It also makes sense, considering the religious background of many Utahns, that most are in favor of civil unions rather than marriage.”

Being open and honest about sexuality and gender identity in the workplace and with friends and family can make a large impact on the overall view of queer rights, she said. Changing the perception of those who oppose queer rights may take time, but is possible, Balken said.

“It’s also important that we have protections in the workplace and housing for everyone so those conversations are possible without the fear of repercussions,” she said.

Equality Utah is working closely with lawmakers to pass a statewide nondiscrimination law that would protect against bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity. To sign the petition and for more information, go to equalityutah.org/action.

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