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Friday, January 17, 2014

Utah: American Bellwether?

A bellwether is one that serves as a leader or is a leading indicator of future trends. Wikipedia cites its origin: "The term is derived from the Middle English bellewether and refers to the practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated ram (a wether) leading his flock of sheep. The movements of the flock could be noted by hearing the bell before the flock was in sight." Much attention is given to Ottawa County, Indiana every four years because it has predicted the outcome of every presidential race since 1964. As it goes, so goes the nation. California has the reputation for leading the country in innovative trends, from new fads to technological breakthroughs. Colorado may be taking that distinction away from it by being the first state to allow recreational marijuana use. 

A new poll in Utah, conducted by its leading newspaper, The Salt Lake Tribune, suggests that America is fully ready to embrace LGBT equality. In a state whose majority population (58%)  is Latter Day Saints (Mormans), the poll found it is evenly divided between 48% who favor granting same-sex marriage licenses and 48% who oppose it. It is clear that its decade old state ban on same-sex marriage would now likely be defeated if offered a vote. (A similar reality now obtains in California.) This is remarkable in that the LDS church is the leading voice against LGBT equality, and aggressively inserts itself and its money all across the nation to defeat pro-gay advances. Nevertheless, Utah is about to cave. I see this as a leading indicator that not only is same-sex marriage inevitable, it's coming more quickly than anyone ever imagined. 

Fully 72% favor civil unions for same-sex couples. Before Colorado made recreational use of marijuana legal, it first decriminalized it and allowed for medical use. Medical use is the gateway to decriminalization and decriminalization is the gateway to legalization. Similarly, the presence of same-sex civil unions leads to legalizing same-sex marriage. People eventually see the inherent inequality in civil unions, as LGBTs are obviously discriminated against in plain sight. Also the increased visibility of gays and lesbians in everyday situations soon breaks down the pejorative stereotypes and are welcomed as normal and entitled to the same rights as everyone else. 

This poll also puts to bed the unsupported but widespread belief that people don't change. Yes they do. In fact, 36% admitted that their views changed over time. So there is hope, nay, solid evidence that the future is bright, and not so distant after all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Please learn how to spell Mormon. If you're gonna bash the Church, you can at least get your spelling correct. Normal and entitled has nothing to do with two people of the same sex wanting to join via marriage. Not normal and not entitled to a holy union that is for the purpose of bearing children, which two people of the same sex cannot do by themselves. Period.