BYU Research Indicates Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage, Civil Unions Decreasing

(KCPW News) New research from Brigham Young University’s Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy indicates opposition to same-sex marriage and civil unions has significantly dropped in Utah since 2004, when voters passed Constitutional Amendment 3, banning same-sex marriage and legal recognition for gay couples. BYU Political Science Professor Kelly Patterson says the abruptness of the shift is notable.

“Oftentimes, opinion change on these kinds of issues takes decades, and are certainly more what we call secular, more gradual,” he says.

Opposition to legal recognition for same-sex couples dropped from 54 percent in 2004 to 29 percent this year, while support for civil unions rose from 25 to 43 percent, and support for gay marriage increased 7 points to 28 percent.

Patterson attributes the shift to the ongoing public discussion over LGBT issues in the state.

“My sense is that it has most to do with the debates over rights, over benefits and the efforts of political leaders, such as Ben McAdams, to try and bridge those gaps between the various constituencies,” he says.

Among Mormon voters, those opposed to legally recognizing same-sex couples dropped from 69 percent in 2004 to 38 percent in 2012. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has supported local ordinances banning discrimination against gay and transgender residents in housing and employment.