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Nearly One-quarter of Americans Oppose Same-sex Marriage While Supporting Nondiscrimination Laws

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that state bans against same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, allowing gay and lesbian people to marry legally nationwide. But, as PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones pointed out in his latest Atlantic article, this court decision is just first of many hurdles the LGBT community faces as they strive for acceptance and equal rights.

Jones points out that the most immediate concern is the nation’s “patchwork” of nondiscrimination laws: only 19 states have laws that protect against discrimination in the workplace based on one’s sexual orientation and gender identity. But that doesn’t mean these laws aren’t popular—nearly seven in ten (69 percent) Americans favor nondiscrimination laws that would protect LGBT people against discrimination in workplaces and housing and public accommodation. In fact, fully three-quarters (75 percent) of Americans incorrectly believe workplace nondiscrimination laws are already on the books.


To provide a more detailed picture of the public opinion landscape on these two important issues, PRRI identified four distinct groups: Americans who support both same-sex marriage and nondiscrimination laws, Americans who favor neither and those who favor one but not the other.

Nearly one-quarter of Americans oppose same-sex marriage while still expressing support for workplace nondiscrimination laws for LGBT people. Nearly half (47 percent) of the U.S. favors both same-sex marriage and nondiscrimination laws, with eight percent only favoring same-sex marriage. Roughly one-quarter (23 percent) support only nondiscrimination laws while an equal number say they do not support same-sex marriage or nondiscrimination laws (23 percent).


Looking at two religious groups within the U.S., we see just how large the country’s spectrum of support for LGBT issues is. White evangelical Protestants are almost half as likely (24 percent) as Americans overall to support both same-sex marriage and nondiscrimination laws and much more likely (36 percent) to support just nondiscrimination laws. Like Americans overall, very few white evangelical Protestants support nondiscrimination laws without also supporting same-sex marriage—only five percent of white evangelical only support same-sex marriage.


At 71 percent support, religiously unaffiliated Americans are more likely than Americans overall and roughly three times as likely as white evangelical Protestants to favor both same-sex marriage and nondiscrimination laws. Roughly half as many religiously unaffiliated Americans (12 percent) as Americans overall report no support for either issue. And similar to white evangelical Protestants and all Americans, very few—only seven percent—religiously unaffiliated Americans only support same-sex marriage.

For more public opinion on same-sex marriage, see PRRI’s “Everything You Need to Know about Same-sex Marriage for the Upcoming SCOTUS Case” and explore the LGBT portal of the American Values Atlas.