When a federal judge last month struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, it was astounding, not because of anything unusual in the court ruling, but because it happened in Utah. We’re talking about one of the reddest of all red states. We’re talking about the only state in the nation in which President Obama failed to get 25% of the vote in the 2012 election.
If marriage equality can take root without incident in the Beehive State, it stands to reason that every state can make the transition to equal marriage rights for all.
But what if some of our assumptions about Utah were exaggerated?
A new poll for The Salt Lake Tribune shows that Utahns’ views on same-sex couples’ relationships have dramatically shifted in the decade since voters amended the state’s constitution to prohibit them from receiving any legal recognition.
Residents are now evenly split on whether same-sex couples in Utah should be allowed to get state-issued marriage licenses – 48 percent for and 48 percent against – and nearly three-fourths (72 percent) said same-sex couples should be allowed to form civil unions or domestic partnerships in lieu of marriage.
As is always the case, it’s best not to read too much into one set of results from one pollster. This one, conducted by SurveyUSA, could be an outlier. Whether the poll seems encouraging or discouraging, we’d need to see more data before drawing firm conclusions about public attitudes statewide.
That said, if the results in the Salt Lake Tribune poll are even close to being accurate, and attitudes on marriage equality are roughly split in Utah, then social conservatives clearly need to face facts, take up a new cause, and quit while they’re behind.
For context, let’s also not forget that when Utah adopted its ban on same-sex marriage, it passed by a 2-to-1 margin. That was in November 2004.
Public attitudes have changed quite a bit over the last decade – even in Utah.