In recent years public attitudes towards gay marriages and civil unions have changed dramatically, and Utah is no exception.
New survey data from the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University (BYU) has found that 29 percent of Utahans now oppose both gay marriage and civil unions, however, attitudes toward some legal recognition of same-sex relationships have changed dramatically over the past eight years. Further analysis of the survey poll found 72 percent of Utah voters oppose gay marriage, but at the same time, 71 percent now favor some form of legal recognition as compared to 62 percent nationally, as reported in CBS/New York Times surveys.
Chris Karpowitz, a BYU political science professor and fellow at the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy stated:
Utah is seeing the same kind of movement that we see in the United States generally. We’re getting massive change in public opinion in a very short period of time. What makes Utah voters different is that they are moving not toward full support of marriage equality but toward civil unions. 
Utah voters, especially young voters are opting for middle ground on the gay marriage issue by showing a strong support for civil unions. Kelly Patterson, a BYU Political Scientist stated::
[These young voters are] responding to arguments in the political environment around them, which trace back to these notions of equality and rights, but that seems to be circumscribed by their faith, and the arguments they hear about the importance of marriage. 
In a Utah survey conducted in 2012, 43 percent of the voters supported civil unions, and 28 percent supported same-sex marriage. On a national level, 24 percent favor civil unions and 38 percent favor same-sex marriage. By using two election exit polls and two surveys of voter panels derived from those exit polls, the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy has been able to collect data regarding attitudes toward gay marriages at four different time periods beginning in 2004. In 2004, 54 percent of Utah voters opposed any form of legal recognition for same-sex relationships. By 2009 that percentage had dropped to 37 percent. By 2010 the percentage dropped to 35 percent, and in the latest poll the percentage dropped to 29 percent. This represents a dramatic change in attitude towards gay marriages by 25 percent of the voting populace in an 8 year time period.
It should be noted that the BYU center’s study used the same questions posed by CBS/New York Times polls over the same time period, but the national survey did not indicate the same dramatic results. In the CBS polls, for example, 38 percent of voters nationally opposed any form of legal recognition in 2004, and that percentage dropped only 5 points in 2012 to 33 percent, after being slightly higher at 43 percent in 2005.
Kelly Patterson, who is a BYU political science professor and fellow at the BYU Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy, pointed out that much of the shift in attitude of Utahans occurred during volatile years that the center’s data does not capture. Patterson further stated:
That five-year gap, from 2004 to 2008, witnessed intense debates across multiple states over the definition of marriage. This culminated in the dramatic 2008 battle over California’s Proposition 8.
The major shift in Utah is indicative of a larger trend in the same-sex marriage debate.
It is difficult to make an argument in modern American culture that there are curbs on what individuals can do and how individuals live their lives. 
Concerning the paradigm shift in attitudes of Utahans being more in favor of gay civil unions, Chris Karpowitz stated:
I think it is clear that we see movement in the same direction as we see movement in the rest of the country, but it doesn’t go quite as far as especially young people in the rest of the country would want to go. 
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