A new poll has found that while 72% of Utah citizens are against marriage equality, 71% favor some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples.
The poll found 72 percent of Utah voters oppose gay marriage. At the same time, 71 percent now favor some form of legal recognition, compared to 62 percent nationally, as reported in CBS/New York Times surveys.
In the 2012 Utah survey, 43 percent of voters supported civil unions, and 28 percent supported same-sex marriage. Nationally, 24 percent favor civil unions and 38 percent favor same-sex marriage.
The dramatic rise in support can perhaps best be tracked by the figure of how many outright oppose legal recognition for same-sex couples.
In 2004, 54% of Utah voters opposed any form of recognition for gay relationships. By 2009 this opposition had reportedly dropped to 37%, and in this latest poll opposition stands at just 29%–this is a slightly better figure than overall national opposition that stands at around 33%.
Due to the state’s close religious affiliations this figure seems even more noteworthy. Researchers responsible for the poll, from the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University, suggest the data may show that Utah citizens are opting for a perceived middle ground on this issue, therein finding civil unions a palatable compromise between liberal politics and religious messaging.
Researchers also say that the shift may be representative of a wider shift that has occurred in America where debate on the issue of gay rights has become a test for socially liberal thinking.
The poll also perhaps points out that Utah’s citizenship may be very much ahead of its religious conservative legislature which this year sort to ban all mention of homosexuality in the classroom.