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Poll reveals growing support for Utah nondiscrimination law

By Dennis Romboy | Posted - Oct. 21, 2014 at 6:53 p.m.

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns continue to favor a state law that would prohibit discrimination based on gender orientation in housing and employment, a new poll shows.

But they are split on whether the statute should include exemptions based on religious beliefs. found 65 percent of residents support a statewide anti-discrimination statute, up 6 percent from its previous poll in August. The new poll found 27 percent oppose such a law, down 2 percent from the August survey.

Dan Jones & Associates conducted the latest poll of 405 registered voters Oct. 14-16. It has an error margin of plus or minus 4.9 percent.

The biggest shift appears in the number of people who "somewhat" support the law. In August, 14 percent somewhat favored it, compared to 23 percent in October.

Those who "strongly" support and oppose a statewide anti-discrimination law remained about the same between the two polls.

Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, intends to again run his bill for a statewide law prohibiting discrimination in the workplace and housing based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Utah Legislature meets in general session next January.


Lawmakers have never taken a floor vote on proposed anti-discrimination legislation since it was first introduced in 2008. Urquhart's bill cleared a Senate committee two years ago.

Leaders in the Republican-controlled Legislature refused to hear the measure earlier this year along with any bills related to religious freedom. Several lawmakers have already said they would bring those proposals back in 2015.

The poll also asked if Utahns support or oppose an exemption to any nondiscrimination bill that would allow people for religious reasons to discriminate in housing or decline to do business with gays or lesbians.

The survey showed 48 percent favor such a provision, while 43 percent oppose it.

Some critics of Urquhart's bill say it would lead to a "public accommodations" law that would compel business people such as photographers or caterers to provide services for same-sex weddings even though it goes against their religious beliefs.

Urquhart has said his legislation has nothing to do with public accommodations but seeks to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace and housing. found 65 percent of residents support a statewide anti-discrimination statute, while 27 percent oppose such a law.

Salt Lake City passed Utah's first nondiscrimination ordinance in 2009 with the backing of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since then, at least 18 other cities and counties have adopted similar policies.

A Deseret News/KSL poll in January found greater support for statewide anti-discrimination laws than the latest poll.

It showed 72 percent of residents believe Utah should make it against the law to fire someone from a job solely because they are gay or transgender.

Respondents were a little less supportive when it came to housing, but still in favor. It showed 67 percent favor a law that would make it illegal to deny a person housing solely because they are gay or transgender.

For that survey, Dan Jones & Associates/Cicero Group queried 746 Utahns statewide. Email: Twitter: dennisromboy; DNewsPolitics

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