Most Utahns would be bothered to learn that their own child or grandchild is gay. But, by a large margin, they support protecting gay and transgender people from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.
That's according to a poll released Thursday by the Human Rights Campaign, which kicks off a national bus tour in Salt Lake City on Friday to promote civil rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population.
Utahns have warmer feelings toward gay and lesbian people than they do toward President Barack Obama. (Gay and lesbian people received an average 51 points out of 100, and Obama received an average 38 points.)
Seventy percent of respondents said they know someone who is gay or lesbian. And 42 percent said their feelings about LGBT people have become more accepting over the last five to 10 years. (Seven percent said they have become less accepting.) Nearly 70 percent of men and 77 percent of women said they could be close friends with a gay or lesbian person. More than half, 55 percent, said they would be bothered "a great deal" to learn their child or grandchild is gay.
Utahns remain strongly opposed to gay marriage 63 percent are opposed and 30 percent are in favor. They also are divided over allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt children (44 percent in favor and 48 percent opposed).
The issue of anti-gay discrimination has received heightened attention in Utah since 2009, when Salt Lake City approved ordinances that forbid housing and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and won a landmark endorsement from the LDS Church. Another 11 cities and counties adopted similar ordinances the following year. But the Utah Legislature has snubbed attempts to pass a statewide law.
More than three-fourths of Utahns (77 percent) support anti-discrimination protections, the poll found.
"Salt Lake City is a fitting place to kick off this [bus] tour as Utahns believe in fairness but the laws haven't yet caught up with that reality," HRC President Joe Solmonese said in a statement. Solmonese will be at the Utah Pride Center on Friday to launch the 12-week tour, which mostly will stop at cities in the Midwest and South.
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, commissioned by HRC, surveyed 400 Utah adults between Aug. 2 and 3. The poll carries a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
'Equality Bus' stops in SLC
The Washington, D.C.,-based Human Rights Campaign (HRC) kicks off its national "On the Road to Equality" bus tour in Salt Lake City this weekend. Events are free unless otherwise noted.
Kick-off party • Check out the bus, which contains exhibits, and meet HRC President Joe Solmonese; Friday, 3-5 p.m. at the Utah Pride Center, 355 N. 300 West.
Family acceptance • As part of a panel discussion, Caitlin Ryan will share research on how rejecting behaviors harm LGBT youths; Saturday, 2-4 p.m., Salt Lake City Main Library, Conference Room 4, 210 E. 400 South.
National movement • HRC will give a presentation on the state of the LGBT-rights movement nationwide; Saturday, 4-7 p.m., Hotel Monaco, 15 W. 200 South.
Bus open house • Last chance to view the bus before it hits the road. HRC also is hosting a 5K run-walk to benefit Volunteers of America's efforts to build a transitional home for homeless young men; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cost for the 5K, which starts at 10 a.m., is $10.
Faith • Panel discussion on using faith to advocate for LGBT rights; Sunday, 2-4 p.m., Episcopal Church Center of Utah, Wasatch Room, 75 S. 200 East.
More information • bit.ly/qgJ1q5