Support for LGBTQ rights growing among Latter-day Saints

Mar 31, 2022, 2:33 PM

Latter-day Saints are showing more support for LGBTQ rights...

Participants begin to leave the state Capitol during the Rainbow March and Rally before heading to Liberty Park in Salt Lake City on Sunday, June 6, 2021. The event was part of Pride Week activities to support Utah's LGBTQ community. (Annie Barker/Deseret News)

(Annie Barker/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A new study shows there’s growing support for LGBTQ+ rights from members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 

The Public Religion Research Institute study shows 53% of church members now support same-sex marriage.

“They’re one of the religious groups who are lower on support for LGBTQ rights issues,” said Research Director Natalie Jackson. “However, they are one of the groups that has moved up quickly.” 

Latter-day Saints are still among the least likely to support LGBTQ+ rights compared to other religions.

The report also found the vast majority — 84% — support non-discrimination laws.

“That’s an area where the Latter-day Saint population actually outpaces the rest of the country,” Jackson said.

Jackson said support for those laws jumped with the Church’s support of a compromise in fair housing policies in Utah in 2015.

“I think that’s the biggest difference. The stance of the church is anti-marriage but pro-non-discrimination.,” said Jackson. “The [Latter-day Saint] population is one of the bigger movers on non-discrimination rights and same-sex marriage. That is probably a result of what has happened in Utah specifically.”

Overall, support for LGBTQ rights has gone up

Nationwide, more than two-thirds of Americans now support same-sex marriage.

According to Jackson, the more people that someone knows identifies as LGBTQ+, the more likely they are to support broader LGBTQ+ rights.

“As we’ve seen the population of folks grow in the country,” she said. “We are seeing more people accept that [this] is a group that deserves these nondiscrimination protections.”

The study surveys about 22,000 people and is proportionally representative of the population of the U.S. The study includes a few hundred Latter-day Saint members, Jackson said.

“People do often make the argument that they can love one another without necessarily condoning their lifestyle,” Jackson said. “I think that is the crux of it for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

The biggest takeaway from the study, Jackson said, is that they see a trend of up-ticks in support for LGBTQ+ rights, despite current Utah legislation regarding transgender athletes.

“On the broad issues that we’re measuring, people are continuing in the same direction,” she said. “There is a broad support for LGBTQ rights, it just gets a lot more nuanced when you talk about these very specific policies happening at the state level.”

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Support for LGBTQ rights growing among Latter-day Saints