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Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014

Poll: Majority of Utahns in favor of nondiscrimination laws

By Whitney Evans, Deseret News

Published: Tue, Aug. 19 9:00 p.m. MDT

 A recent poll shows most Utahns would likely favor a statewide law banning discrimination in housing or employment on the basis of sexual preference.

A recent poll shows most Utahns would likely favor a statewide law banning discrimination in housing or employment on the basis of sexual preference.

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A recent poll shows most Utahns would likely favor a statewide law banning discrimination in housing or employment on the basis of sexual preference.

The poll, sponsored by Zions Bank and commissioned by UtahPolicy.com, found that 59 percent of Utahns would either strongly favor or somewhat favor "a statewide law banning employment and housing discrimination based on sexual preference."

The results come on the heels of a poll released Monday showing 61 percent of Utahns in opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriage. Dan Jones & Associates conducted the poll of attitudes of likely voters Aug. 12-14. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.

"I don't think that you're going to find a public policy move that's going to please either side because clearly Utahns do not support same-sex marriage," said Bryan Schott, managing editor of UtahPolicy.com. "I mean, it's a 2-to-1 margin. That's pretty overwhelming in our survey. But by the same account, they … are warming to more gay rights … in supporting a nondiscrimination bill across the state."

While several cities throughout Utah have adopted nondiscrimination legislation, a statewide bill has been filed but not passed in the Utah Legislature for six consecutive years.

The passage of a non-discrimination bill is contingent on the ability of lawmakers and voters to separate same-sex marriage from "simple workplace and housing discrimination," Sen. Steve Urquhart said Tuesday on "The Doug Wright Show." "If I can succeed in doing that, we will pass this."

Urquhart sponsored SB100, a nondiscrimination bill proposed to the Legislature for the past two sessions. It was not heard in the most recent legislative session in the wake of the Amendment 3 ruling.

According to Schott, the results show two things about Utah voters.

"What these numbers tell me is the statewide nondiscrimination is probably a political issue whose time has come in Utah; (and) same-sex marriage is not an issue whose time has come," he said.

Others see matters in a different way.

"Utah, I think, has an opportunity — and maybe unique opportunity — to try and reconcile all those kinds of concerns with fairness on one hand and with protecting family and a family friendly state on the other hand and show that those can be reconciled in a way that's positive," said Bill Duncan, director of the Center for Family and Society at the Sutherland Institute, a conservative public policy think tank. "I think that the poll results suggest that's the way many Utahns think about this issue, and I think that's good."

Support for nondiscrimination bills may abate "as people become aware of some of the potential legal conflicts that could develop between discrimination laws that single out statuses like gender identity or sexual orientation, and employers' and individuals' rights to act on their faith in the public square," Duncan said.

An ideal bill would have a "strong religious exemption" — protecting businesses and individuals from being forced to violate their beliefs — and avoid creating "new categories (of nondiscrimination) that are potentially more troubling, like sexual orientation and gender identity," he said.

The polls are part of an ongoing effort by UtahPolicy.com to measure attitudes regarding politics and public policy in the state, according to Schott, and do not reflect a political motive.

"Our agenda is to get information and disseminate it. That's our agenda. We have no other agenda other than that. We don't have a political bent. We just wanted to find out what the numbers were," he said.

Email: wevans@deseretnews.com, Twitter: whitevs7

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1. mohokat
Ogden, UT,
Aug. 20, 2014

Once again more government intrusion. How about I choose who I hire and rent my property to.

2. Laura Bilington
Maple Valley, WA,
Aug. 20, 2014

These poll results are totally useless except to illustrate how people can be manipulated to say one thing or another.

Read any DN Opinion piece dealing with gay marriage. You will see lofty platitudes about respect for all Utahns followed by assertions that maintaining Amendment 3 leads to such virtuous goals protecting children, strong families, and religious liberty.

Nobody ever gets around to explaining how denying marriage licenses to gay adults is harming children, weakening families, or infringing on anybod's religious liberty.

Bill Duncan's quote is classic. He talks about reconciling fairness and "protecting family" as if there's some huge thing there to reconcile! Then he goes on to say--not quite this bluntly, of course--that people might not be OK with laws which crimp their right to continue to discriminate, because their church tells them that "those people"; are icky / sinners / whatever.

His ideal bill would not create any "troubling" categories like sexual orientation and it would have a "strong religious exemption". In other words, a bill which says nothing at all, protects no one who isn't already protected, and has a loophole big enough to drive a truck through, would get his support.

3. Uncle_Fester
Niskayuna, NY,
Aug. 20, 2014

If Utahns fall for this nonsense they will deserve the consequences which will be, among other things, bogus complaints and lawsuits, government running stings at taxpayer expense and the ultimate discovery that the only ones discriminated against are the religious and the responsible -who will also happen to be the property owners. This will be followed in short order by "social justice" initiatives, increased section 8 housing, crime and Broken Windows syndrome.

4. ordinaryfolks
seattle, WA,
Aug. 20, 2014

It does not matter what the polls indicate people want or believe. It only matters in Utah what the Republican Tea Party wants to present as its policy ideas. And this policy is to continue discrimination against gay and lesbian citizens.

Politicians at all levels of government don't really care what people want, they only care about the $ to get re-elected. And to get back into office you must tow the party line, or else.

Welcome to the new America, Utah.

5. Baccus0902
Leesburg, VA,
Aug. 20, 2014

"The passage of a non-discrimination bill is contingent on the ability of lawmakers and voters to separate same-sex marriage from "simple workplace and housing discrimination," Sen. Steve Urquhart said Tuesday on "The Doug Wright Show." "If I can succeed in doing that, we will pass this."

Sen. Urquhart, I would suggest to add for us (LGBT) to ride the back of the bus. Nobody could claim discrimination, after all, we are being allowed in the bus. Right?

"you can put lipstick on a pig it's still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change it's still gonna stink, we've had enough of the same old thing" ( Web: MemeTracker)