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Support for marriage equality in Utah at record high

41 percent of residents supported gay nuptials prior to stay



David Baker, gay news, Washington Blade
David Baker, gay news, Washington Blade

David Baker commissioned a poll with Google revealing support for marriage equality in Utah was at an all-time high. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A recent consumer survey conducted in Utah reveals that support for same-sex marriage in the state was at an all-time high last week just before the Supreme Court halted the weddings with a stay.

The poll, conducted using Google’s digital platform polling system, found that support for same-sex marriage reached 41 percent as of last week. Although the poll shows a majority of Utah voters have yet to embrace marriage equality, the result demonstrates a 13-point increase in support over two years when compared to an earlier poll from Brigham Young University.

David Baker, a Mormon and gay D.C. activist, said he ran the poll in the aftermath of the federal district court ruling in Utah in favor of marriage equality for more updated data on the state’s support for same-sex nuptials.

“I conducted the poll because the latest data out of Utah is almost two years old and it had been almost two weeks since the District court ruling,” Baker said. “I knew that Google’s tool would get me statistically significant results in a few days so I ran the poll as a private citizen.”

The questioning in the survey is based on similar polls that Brigham Young University’s Center for the Study of Elections & Democracy conducted on marriage equality in 2004, 2009, 2010 and 2012. The 2012 poll found that just 28 percent of Utah residents supported marriage equality, 43 percent supported only civil unions and 29 percent wanted no legal recognition for same-sex couples.

The 13-point jump in the more recent survey compared to the most recent BYU poll reveals that new support for marriage equality came entirely from those who previously supported only civil unions. Opposition to marriage equality also grew from 29 percent to 31 percent.

Baker said he thinks the poll demonstrates a shift in opinion among Utah voters to support same-sex marriage following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June against Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.

“A 13-point bump signifies that Utah voters realize the world hasn’t ended with the repeal of DOMA and recognizing same-sex marriages is the right thing to do,” Baker said.

The Washington Blade is unaware of any other recent polling on same-sex marriage in Utah in the aftermath of the district court ruling besides the consumer poll.

Google consumer surveys are deemed accurate by statistics experts. As Baker notes in his blog posting in which he published the poll results, statistics guru Nate Silver ranked them second overall in terms of reliability and lack of bias during the 2012 presidential election.

Scott Barclay, a senior scholar in public policy at the Williams Institute at University of California, Los Angeles, said the new poll is consistent with earlier public opinion estimates on rising support for marriage equality throughout the states.

“Support for marriage equality generally has been consistently rising in the last 20 years, but current research at the Williams Institute finds that the rate of support for marriage equality at both the national level and within almost all states appears to be increasing much more rapidly in the last four years than at any previous point in time,” Barclay said.

A Williams Institute survey, which didn’t include a question on civil unions, found that support in 2012 for same-sex marriage in Utah was at 36 percent —slightly higher than the result from BYU in the same year.

Barclay said there’s good evidence that public opinion surveys that include the option of civil unions alongside marriage equality actually underestimate the level of support in the general population for marriage equality.

Moreover, Barclay said it’s no surprise that increased support for marriage equality in the new poll comes entirely from people who previously supported only civil unions.

“As reflected in the current poll result, existing research shows that support for civil unions has generally declined as marriage equality has emerged as the popularly accepted form of state recognition,” Barclay said. “Individuals who identify as conservative are the most likely to continue to support civil unions.”

The new poll includes increased support from younger people relative to other groups, which, given recent attitudes on marriage equality, could shift the result more in favor of marriage equality. However, Barclay said he was able to achieve the same result by weighting the survey for a more balanced look.

“We used a statistical technique to apply population weights (based on the current information from the Current Population Survey of the Census) to the reported survey and the newly weighted version yielded a very similar result [at 41 percent support for marriage equality],” Barclay said.

The poll shows growing support for marriage equality in Utah just as other polls have revealed increased support for gay nuptials nationwide. A widely cited poll in March 2013 from Washington Post-ABC News found 58 percent of Americans support marriage equality.

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, spoke broadly about the growing support for marriage equality when asked to comment on the significance of the recent Utah survey.

“Support for the freedom to marry is accelerating in Utah, as in the rest of the country — and for the same reason,” Wolfson said. “As people get to know more about gay people’s lives and families, engage in conversations about gay people and why marriage matters, and think about values such as the Golden Rule of treating others as you’d want to be treated, hearts open and minds change.”

It remains to be seen whether the stay on same-sex marriage in Utah will have an impact on support for same-sex marriage in the state.

Baker said he hasn’t yet decided on whether to do another poll.

“I hadn’t planned on one just yet as I don’t think the stay is going to influence opinion,” Baker said. “I might do one that doesn’t have civil unions as an option to see where things stand there.”

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  1. Dominique Holliday

    January 9, 2014 at 1:23 am

    I support…..

  2. Anthony Seattle

    January 9, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    But it is still Utah…

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Comings & Goings



Troy Cline, gay news, Washington Blade
The 'Comings & Goings' column chronicles important life changes of Blade readers.

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected]

The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success. 

Shin Inouye, gay news, Washington Blade
Steven McCarty

Congratulations to Steven McCarty on being named president of the Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C. He said, “I’m honored to be installed as the president of the Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C. and to be able to shepherd our programs and volunteers to impact youth where they are needed most. Our club’s new partnership with SMYAL has already turned a portion of their Youth Center in Southeast D.C. into the first Clinical Services Department in the District that offers free and affirming mental healthcare to LGBTQ Youth. As an openly gay man, I’m proud to further our club’s mission with radical empathy and inclusion.” McCarty has also recently been awarded Kiwanis’ highest honor, the George Hixson award.

McCarty is a Technical Program Specialist at stac labs in D.C. He is also founder and campaign manager at Abolish Racism 2020. He worked as a Senior Customer Success Manager,  Crowdskout. He was a workplace equality intern at Human Rights Campaign and a summer fellow at Michigan State AFL-CIO, in Lansing, Mich. 

McCarty earned his bachelor’s in Political Science and Communications Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Congratulations also to Shin Inouye on his appointment as Executive Vice President of Communications, The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and Human Rights, The Leadership Conference Education Fund. 

Wade Henderson, interim president and CEO of The Leadership Conference and The Education Fund said, “We are thrilled Shin Inouye will be taking on even greater responsibilities on our senior leadership team. His incredible talent and commitment to this organization and our work are truly outstanding, and his strategic leadership will no doubt continue moving us forward in the fight to protect and advance civil and human rights.”

Inouye has held a number of positions with the organization including Managing Director of Communications. Inouye also held a number of high-level positions in the Obama administration, including Press Secretary and Acting Senior Adviser for Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; Adviser for Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Executive Office of the President; White House Office of Communications: Director of Specialty Media; and served as an authorized spokesperson for the Obama Inaugural Committee, with a focus on specialty media outlets, including LGBTQ, AAPI, Native American, Youth/College, Faith, and Jewish press. Prior to that Inouye was Communications Director in the Office of Congressman Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) and has also worked for the ACLU and as a summer intern with the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan. 

Inouye received a number of honors including being named One of 25 “LGBTI next generation leaders to watch” by Out in National Security and the Atlantic Council; and One of “40 Asian American Pacific Islander National Security & Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders” by New America and the Diversity in National Security Network.

Shin Inouye
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Petition urges White House to develop plan to protect LGBTQ Afghans

Taliban regained control of country on Aug. 15



Two men in Kabul, Afghanistan, in July 2021 (Photo courtesy of Dr. Ahmad Qais Munzahim)

More than 10,000 people have signed a petition that urges the Biden administration to do more to help LGBTQ Afghans who remain in Afghanistan after the Taliban regained control of the country.

The Human Rights Campaign; the Council for Global Equality; Immigration Equality; Rainbow Railroad; the Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration and the International Refugee Assistance Project on Friday presented to the White House the petition that urges the administration to adopt “a 10-point action plan … to expedite and ease the refugee and asylum process for LGBTQI Afghans.”

The same six groups last month urged the Biden administration to adopt a plan that would “prioritize the evacuation and resettlement of vulnerable refugee populations, including LGBTQI people, and ensure that any transitory stay in a third country is indeed temporary by expediting refugee processing.” The groups, among other things, asked the White House to “speak out forcefully against human rights abuses by the new Taliban regime and any increased targeting of vulnerable communities, including LGBTQI people, and use existing mechanisms to sanction and hold accountable perpetrators of human rights abuse.”

The Taliban entered Kabul, the Afghan capital, on Aug. 15 and regained control of the country.

A Taliban judge in July said the group would once again execute people if it were to return to power in Afghanistan.

Rainbow Railroad and Immigration Equality are among the other groups that have continued their efforts to evacuate LGBTQ Afghans since American troops completed their withdrawal from the country on Aug. 30. Some of the 50 Afghan human rights activists who Taylor Hirschberg, a researcher at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health who is also a Hearst Foundation scholar, has been able to help leave the country are LGBTQ.

“We reiterate our call for President Biden to adopt the 10-point policy plan which will expedite and ease the refugee process for LGBTQI Afghans,” said Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof in a press release. “The 10,000+ people who signed our petition have demonstrated that they want the United States, long a beacon of refuge for those fleeing persecution, to take action to protect LGBTQI Afghans—a vulnerable group who risk oppression, even death, simply for who they are or who they love. Now is the time for action.”

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VIDEO: Utah deal promoted as national model for LGBTQ rights, religious liberty

Data finds state has 2nd highest support for LGBTQ rights



(Screen capture via YouTube)

A new video from the premier LGBTQ group in Utah, challenging the idea LGBTQ rights must be at odds with religious liberty, promotes an agreement reached in the state as a potential model to achieve a long sought-after update to civil rights law at the federal level.

The video, published Friday by Equality Utah, focuses on a 2015 agreement in Utah between the supporters of LGBTQ rights and the Mormon Church to enact a compromise acceptable to both sides. The agreement by those two sides led to an LGBTQ civil rights law in the state, which has Republican control of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion.

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, says in the video dialogue is key to achieving meaningful success, whether its among the people of Utah, a state legislature or lawmakers in Congress.

“When you are working with LGBT rights in a state like Utah, and you want to advance legal equality, you can’t do it without working with Republicans, with conservative, with people of faith,” Williams says.

Williams, speaking with the Washington Blade over a Zoom call, said the main audience for the video is people on “the center right and the center left” willing to listen to other side when it comes to LGBTQ rights and religious liberty.

“People that have the courage to reach out to each other, and sit down across from each other and say, ‘Hey look, let’s hammer this out,” Williams said. “That’s who my audience is.”

Not only did Utah enact non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, but the state under a Republican governor administratively banned widely discredited conversion therapy for youth. When lawmakers proposed legislation that would ban transgender youth from competing in school sports, the proposal was scuttled when Gov. Spencer Cox (whom Williams called a “super Mormon”) said he’d veto it after it came to his desk.

Marina Gomberg, a former board for Equality Utah, is another voice in the video seeking dispel the narrative religious liberty and LGBTQ rights are in conflict.

“in order to protect LGBTQ people, we don have to deny religious liberty, and in order to provide protections for religious liberties, we don’t have to deny LGBTQ people,” Gomberg says. “The idea that we do is a fallacy that Utah has dismantled.”

In July, new polling demonstrated the surprisingly the Utah, despite being a conservative state, has the second highest percentage of state population in support for non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. The data Public Religion Research Institute from 77 percent of Utah residents support LGBTQ people, which is just behind New Hampshire at 81 percent.

Tyler Deaton, senior adviser for the pro-LGBTQ American Unity Fund, said the Utah agreement demonstrates the possibility of reaching an agreement at the federal level once “second order” issues are put into perspective.

“The first order question has to be how are we winning the culture,” Deaton said. “Do people even want to pass the bill? And if they do, you then figure out the details.”

The American Unity Fund has helped promote as a path forward for LGBTQ non-discrimination at the federal level the Fairness for For All Act, legislation seeking to reach a middle ground on LGBTQ rights and religious freedom. Polling earlier this year found 57 percent of the American public back a bipartisan solution in Congress to advance LGBTQ civil rights.

Supporters of the Equality Act, the more established vehicle for LGBTQ rights before Congress, say the Fairness for For All Act would give too many carve-out for LGBTQ rights in the name of religious freedom. The Equality Act, however, is all but dead in Congress and has shown no movement in the U.S. Senate.

Skeptics of the Utah law would point out the law doesn’t address public accommodations, one of the more challenging aspects in the fight for LGBTQ rights and one or remaining gaps in civil rights protections for LGBTQ people in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton County. As a result, it’s perfectly legal in Utah for a business owner to discriminate against LGBTQ coming as patrons.

Williams, however, shrugged off the idea the lack of public accommodations protections in Utah make the agreement in the state makes it any less of a model, making the case the spirit behind the deal is what matters.

“I think copying and pasting Utah’s law doesn’t work for lots of reasons,” Wililams said. “What’s most important is a model of collaboration because when you are sitting around the table with each other — Democrats and Republicans, LGBTQ people and people of faith — that’s when the transformation happens. That is when the mutual respect is really forged.”

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