The willingness to compromise has helped change public opinion about marriage for same-sex couples in Utah, said Williams, pointing to a recent survey, published by the LDS-church-owned Deseret News, that found that 72% of the state’s residents support same-sex marriage.
A similar poll in 2014, according to the Deseret News, found that 57% of Utah residents opposed same-sex marriage.
“What happened is that people started going to their children’s same-sex weddings and having a blast,” said Williams. “And they saw the love and joy in their children’s hearts. That’s what has truly shifted in this moment.”
Williams sees the hoped-for passage of the Respect for Marriage bill as a sign that same-sex marriage, once a polarizing issue, can bring Americans together.
“We all need a success story right now,” he said.
Robin Fretwell Wilson, a University of Illinois law professor who helped craft the Utah compromise, agrees. Wilson has long argued that same-sex marriage supporters and religious groups can work together and has advocated for the so-called Fairness for All bill, a stalled piece of federal legislation modeled on the Utah compromise.
Wilson has described civil rights — such as same-sex marriage and religious liberty — as “puzzle pieces” that can fit together if people of good faith work together.
She said the apocalyptic thinking that fueled much of the opposition to same-sex marriage has largely disappeared.
“It was panic, panic, panic — and then it was gone.”
This article originally appeared here.