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Idaho Poll: 2/3 believe discrimination against gays should be illegal

A new poll shows that two-thirds of Idahoans believe it should be against state law to discriminate against gays, lesbians and transgender people in housing, employment and business. The poll by by Dan Jones & Associates asked 520 Idaho adults in late December found that 67 percent thought such discrimination should be illegal, while 27 percent did not and 6 percent didn’t know. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent

The poll was commissioned by Idaho Politics Weekly, a new online newsletter created by Zions Bank, that will provide monthly research from the prominent Utah polling firm.

“As sponsor, Zions Bank is not endorsing or taking positions on public policy issues,” publisher LaVar Webb wrote on the bank’s website. “Rather, the bank views this newsletter as an extension of its guiding principles to be involved in the community and provide needed services. Idaho Politics Weekly is not partisan or ideological and is not a traditional journalistic endeavor. It is intended to serve the public policy community with news and information.”

The poll was released as Idaho’s legislative session opens with promises from legislative leaders that a full hearing on what Idahoans have dubbed the “Add the Words” bill — legislation to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act — will be heard this year. The bill has been proposed for each of the past nine years, but never received a hearing. During last year’s session, more than 100 people were arrested at the state capitol in protests demanding that the bill be heard.

The poll showed that 58 percent of Republicans support the measure, as well as 87 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of independents and 52 percent of those who described themselves as “very conservative.” The poll also found that 64 percent of Idaho Mormons who said they were “very active” in their church supported making such discrimination illegal. Idaho Mormons who said they were “not active” in their church were 80 percent in favor; Catholics, 71 percent; Protestants, 57 percent; members of other religious denominations, 73 percent; and respondents not affiliated with any religion, 75 percent.

The survey is consistent with other Idaho polls. In 2008, the Boise State University public policy survey found that 63 percent of Idahoans thought it should be illegal to fire someone because they are, or are perceived to be, gay or lesbian.

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