Utahns are remaining steady in their support of a statewide law banning discrimination in housing and employment for gays and lesbians, a new Zions Bank/UtahPolicy.com poll shows.
The new survey by Dan Jones & Associates finds that 59 percent of those polled strongly or somewhat favor a statewide law banning such discrimination.
However, in recent years the Republican-controlled Legislature has refused to even hear such a bill, sponsored by Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George.
In the 2014 session, in a closed GOP Senate caucus, the Republican senators decided not to consider any gay same-sex or discrimination bills at all, saying they prefer to let same-sex marriage play out in the federal courts.
Last January, a Salt Lake Tribune poll showed that 60 percent of Utahns favored such a bill. And a similar poll in 2010 found two-thirds of Utahns favored such a statewide law.
Interesting in the new Zions Bank/UtahPolicy survey is that 50 percent of Republicans favor a statewide anti-discrimination law on housing and employment for gays and lesbians.
Only 36 percent of Republicans oppose such an all-encompassing bill, Jones found.
The poll was conducted August 12-14, 400 likely voters, margin of error: +/-4.9 percent.
Jones told UtahPolicy that “Utahns are becoming more tolerant on the gay rights movement, especially when it comes to denying housing to gays and lesbians.”
Even those Utahns who said they follow the Tea Party movement – and so could be of concern for some GOP lawmakers in their re-elections – are moving toward support of Urquhart’s measure.
Jones found that among Tea Partiers, 48 percent favor such a statewide law, while 31 percent oppose it.
Of course, Democrats and independents greatly favor a gay/lesbian anti-discrimination law in housing and employment – Democrats favor it 77-18 percent and independents want such a law 64-24 percent.
Jones found that only those who said they are “very conservative” have real problems with a statewide law on banning such discrimination for gays and lesbians.
Forty-two percent of “very conservative” voters favor such a bill, while 44 percent oppose.
“Somewhat” conservatives support the bill 54-34 percent, and the favorability rises as the political moderation rises, as well.
About 20 local cities and counties have passed a “model” piece of legislation first supported by leaders of the LDS Church in Salt Lake City several years ago.
And many believed then the Legislature would soon act on such a bill statewide.
But GOP lawmakers have been skittish.
For several years Democratic-sponsored efforts went nowhere.
Then Republican Urquhart picked it up, and many believed a GOP-sponsored bill could pass.
But the first year of Urquhart’s efforts GOP senators wouldn’t even let the bill out of a committee. Then it did pass out of a committee in 2013, with the understanding it wouldn’t even get floor debate, which it didn’t.
In the 2014 session, GOP senators decided in a closed caucus that no gay/lesbian-based bills would be heard at all.
It is still unclear what may happen to a Urquhart bill in the 2015 Legislature.
In an unsuccessful attempt to move conservative legislators in the 2014 session, the anti-discrimination group Fair To All ran some TV and radio spots during the session.