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Poll: Utahns favor legal protection for LGBTQ individuals in employment, housing

Tuesday, December 20, 2011
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SALT LAKE CITY — A recent poll commissioned by Equality Utah — a Salt Lake-based civil rights organization focusing on equal rights and protections for LGBT Utahns and their families — found that a majority of those polled favored a statewide non-discrimination law that would make it illegal for someone to be fired from a job solely because they are LGBT.

Additionally, those same persons polled also favored a Utah-wide law that would make it illegal for someone to be evicted from housing solely because they are LGBT.

There was a caveat as those polled also indicated that they did not support same-sex marriage equality nor did they approve of adoption rights for same-sex couples.

The poll was conducted by the Salt Lake City based public opinion and market research firm Dan Jones and Associates. The survey polled 801 households across the state and contained a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent. According to the firm, the poll found that nearly 80 percent of respondents believed such statewide nondiscrimination laws already existed in Utah.

Trent Kaufman, researcher and executive vice president of the Cicero Group, parent company of Dan Jones and Associates said, “Utahns showed some interest in anti-discrimination laws in some areas and not in other areas. The data suggests the marriage or adoption issues relate to the family, while the other (data) aren’t as related to family,” he said.

“These findings held true all across the state with respondents representing every county,” he added.

The poll also revealed that 54 percent of respondents believe that being gay is probably or definitely a choice.

“Utahns at their core are non-discriminatory people,” said Brandie Balken, executive director of Equality Utah.

“We don’t believe that discrimination is OK regardless of the reason that it’s being practiced. As understanding about the broad support of these protections and also understanding about the implications of discrimination on our communities continues to grow, it enhances our opportunity to achieve statewide passage for these important protections,” Balken said.

“Making inroads toward equality will require more time and continued education,” Balken said.

“People are able to see people who are gay or transgendered at their full human selves, not as a category or preference. When we can speak about the values that we share, and what we see as a state as fair-minded, common sense protections based on our shared values, then we have the opportunity to make really good policy,” she said.

“Today in the state of Utah, I can say to you, ‘I’m firing you because you’re straight. I don’t think you represent my company well,’ or ‘I’m evicting you because you’re not transgender.’ That’s not a value set that Utahns hold.”

Gay rights in Utah Poll results:

Of those polled:

  • 73% somewhat or strongly favor a statewide nondiscrimination law in employment;
  • 73% somewhat or strongly favor a statewide nondiscrimination law in housing (More than 80% of respondents believed such laws already existed in Utah.);
  • 55% somewhat or strongly oppose gay or transgender couples becoming foster parents;
  • 52% oppose gay or transgender couples adopting children to whom they have no relationship;
  • 64% somewhat or strongly favor allowing legally recognized forms of partnerships, short of marriage;
  • 5% somewhat or strongly oppose allowing gay and transgender couples to marry in Utah;
  • 57% somewhat or strongly oppose Utah recognizing marriages of gay and transgender couples who move here;
  • 54% believe that being gay is probably or definitely a choice.
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