Two-thirds of Idahoans believe it should be against state law to discriminate against gays, lesbians and transgender people in housing, employment and business, a new poll by Idaho Politics Weekly shows.
Idaho is among two dozen states that do not specifically protect homosexuals and transgender people from such discrimination.
And the Idaho Legislature, which saw half a dozen protests by gay rights advocates during its 2014 general session, has refused to pass such legislation before.
The GOP-controlled House and Senate have even refused to hear such an anti-discrimination measure.
The 2015 general session starts Jan. 12.
The new poll, conducted by Dan Jones & Associates in late December, finds that 67 percent of Idahoans believe it should “be illegal to discriminate in housing, employment, and business based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The poll is of 520 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent.
Only 27 percent of Idahoans said it should not be illegal and 6 percent told Jones they didn’t know.
Since the 1960s Idaho has had a human rights law.
And gay rights advocates – under that banner Add The Words and Add The 4 Words -- have been asking the Legislature to add four words to that law, including “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” which in effect would make such discrimination illegal.
A dozen Idaho cities have such anti-discrimination ordinances now. But so far gay rights advocates have not been able to convince the Legislature to pass a statewide measure.
Republicans make up more than two-thirds of both the Idaho House and Senate. And Idaho is, by and large, one of the more conservative states in the nation.
But most Republicans, even most “very conservative” Idahoans, favor making such gay and lesbian discrimination illegal.
-- 58 percent of rank-and-file Republicans said they believe such discrimination against homosexuals should be illegal.
-- 87 percent of Democrats said so.
-- 72 percent of political independents agree.
-- 52 percent of classified themselves as “very conservative” believe such discrimination should be illegal.
As one’s political leanings move to the left, even greater majorities said it should be illegal in Idaho to discriminate against gays and lesbians in housing, employment and business.
Many Idahoans are members of the LDS Church.
And several years ago Mormon Church leaders came out in favor of such an anti-discrimination ordinance for Salt Lake City, headquarters of the worldwide church.
Yet the Utah Legislature, which is dominated by members of the LDS faith, has also failed to pass such a statewide anti-discrimination law.
Jones found that among Idaho Mormons who said they are “very active” in their church, 64 percent said they favor making such discrimination illegal statewide.
Twenty-eight percent of “very active” Mormons said they oppose such a legal protection for gays and lesbians.
The “somewhat active” Mormons favor such an anti-discrimination law, 68-26 percent; “not active” Mormons favor it, 80-20 percent; Catholics favor it, 71-27 percent; Protestants favor it, 57-27 percent; members of other denominations favor it, 73-21 percent; and those with no religion favor it, 75-19 percent.