People in Utah support LGBTQ rights more than New Yorkers

Pride Parade participants with Mormon support and political figures marching in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah on June 3rd 2012.
Pride Parade participants with Mormon support and political figures marching in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah on June 3rd 2012. Photo: Shutterstock

Utah ranks second in the nation in its citizens’ support for LGBTQ non-discrimination protections, according to a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI).

The PRRI poll found that 77 percent of Utah residents either favor or strongly favor “laws that would protect (LGBT) people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations and housing.” The state tied with Vermont and was beaten only by New Hampshire whose residents support such protections by 81 percent.

This may seem especially surprising considering Utah’s largely Mormon population. But the Mormon church has made some recent efforts to drop its toxic antigay policies that treat LGBTQ people and same-sex couples like heretics — a significant change from 2008 when the Church donated millions to help California invalidate same-sex marriage via Proposition 8.

In April 2019, Utah updated its hate crimes law to include sexual orientation and gender identity, and in 2017, the state repealed its “No Promo Homo” law forbidding positive mentions of homosexuality in public school classrooms.

Related: First LGBTQ community center opening in Provo, Utah across from Mormon temple

But that doesn’t mean that Utah is perfect. In fact, in February 2019, the Mormon church said it wouldn’t oppose a ban on so-called “ex-gay” conversion therapy in the state. But then Republican legislators amended the bill to only ban the most extreme forms of conversion therapy using vomiting and electroshock methods of “aversion.” The bill ended up dying in committee.

The PRRI poll contained several other hopeful signs: Namely, majorities of every age, religion and political affiliation support LGBTQ protections.

Approximately 59 percent of seniors, 56 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of conservatives support them, as do 59 percent of Orthodox Christians, 54 percent of White evangelical Protestants and 53 percent of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Despite conservative state legislators and the president crowing about the need to allow anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the name of “religious freedom,” most conservatives and religious people don’t actually support such discrimination.

If our community can garner their support, perhaps we can pass protections on a state-by-state basis. After all, Utah passed its own imperfect LGBTQ nondiscrimination bill in 2015. If they can do it, surely it can happen in other conservative holdouts.

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