New Landmark Survey of 50 States Finds Broad Support for LGBT Rights Across the United States
Majority Support for Same-Sex Marriage and Nondiscrimination Protections, Opposition to Religiously-Based Service Refusals Across Most Demographics; White Evangelical Protestants and Republicans Are Only Major Groups Opposed to Same-Sex Marriage
WASHINGTON – A landmark national survey of over 40,000 Americans, including results for all 50 states, released today by PRRI finds approximately seven in 10 (69 percent) Americans support nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people today. The survey also finds nearly six in 10 (57 percent) Americans oppose allowing small businesses to refuse services to gay and lesbian people based on religious objections. More than six in 10 (62 percent) Americans also support same-sex marriage. The only major groups in which a majority oppose same-sex marriage are white evangelical Protestants and Republicans.
Majorities in All States Support Nondiscrimination Protections for LGBT People
Approximately seven in 10 (69 percent) Americans—including majorities in all 50 states—favor laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing, virtually unchanged from 2017 levels (70 percent). Though support is highest in Northeastern (72 percent) and Western (72 percent) states, majorities in the Midwest (68 percent) and South (65 percent) are also supportive. Even in states with the lowest levels of support, such as South Carolina (58 percent) and Arkansas (56 percent), solid majorities support these policies.
“The broad support for laws to protect LGBT people from discrimination represents a rarity in our polarized politics today—an issue that actually brings Americans together across partisan, religious, and geographic lines,” notes PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones.
The nationwide strength of support for nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people transcends age and religion. Three in four Americans ages 18-29 (76 percent) favor these protections, as do 59 percent of Americans ages 65 and over.
Solid majorities of all major religious groups in the U.S. support laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination in housing, public accommodations, and the workplace. Among major religious groups, the strongest supporters of LGBT nondiscrimination protections are Unitarian Universalists (90 percent), Jews (80 percent), Hindus (79 percent), Buddhists (75 percent), and religiously unaffiliated Americans (78 percent). Even majorities of faith traditions that have been historically more opposed to LGBT rights support these protections. Fully seven in 10 Mormons (70 percent), along with 65 percent of black Protestants, 60 percent of Muslims, 54 percent of white evangelical Protestants, and 53 percent of Jehovah’s Witnesses favor LGBT nondiscrimination laws.
Majorities of Democrats (79 percent), independents (70 percent), and Republicans (56 percent) also favor such protections, though Republican support has slipped five percentage points over the last few years, down from 61 percent support in 2015.
All Racial Groups, Most Religious Groups Oppose Allowing Businesses to Refuse Services to LGBT Customers
A majority of Americans (57 percent) oppose allowing a small business owner in their state to refuse products or services to gay or lesbian people based on their religious beliefs. Opposition to religiously-based refusals to serve gay and lesbian people is slightly lower than support in 2017 (60 percent) and 2016 (61 percent) but consistent with support levels in 2015 (59 percent).
Majorities of residents in 40 states believe small business owners in their state should not be allowed to refuse service to gay and lesbian people. While there are no states in which a majority support religiously-based refusals to serve gay or lesbian people, opposition falls short of a majority in 10 states: Arkansas (50 percent), Kansas (50 percent), Alabama (49 percent), Nevada (49 percent), Utah (49 percent), Louisiana (48 percent), Oklahoma (48 percent), Idaho (47 percent), Tennessee (47 percent). Alaska is the only state with plurality support for religiously-based service refusals (46 percent favor, 42 percent oppose).
Younger Americans ages 18-29 (63 percent are noticeably more likely than seniors over the age of 65 (52 percent) to oppose religiously-based refusals to serve gay or lesbian people.
Americans of all racial and ethnic groups oppose religiously-based service refusals. Black (66 percent) and Hispanic (60 percent) Americans are most likely to oppose allowing businesses to refuse service to gay or lesbian people because of religious objections. White (54 percent) and Native Americans (52 percent) are least likely to oppose such service refusals, though a majority remain against them.
Majorities of most major religious groups oppose religiously-based refusals to serve gay or lesbian people. The greatest opposition comes from Unitarian Universalists (83 percent), Jews (68 percent), religiously unaffiliated Americans (66 percent), Buddhists (66 percent) and Muslims (60 percent). White evangelical Protestants (55 percent) and Mormons (54 percent) are the only religious groups where a majority support allowing small business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian customers if doing so violates their religious beliefs. Jehovah’s Witnesses have no majority opinion: a plurality (43 percent) are opposed, while almost as many are in favor (39 percent); 18 percent offer no opinion.
Opposition to religiously-based service refusals varies dramatically by political affiliation. Three-quarters of Democrats (75 percent) and a majority of independents (56 percent) oppose allowing businesses to refuse service to gay or lesbian people based on religious objections. Only 36 percent of Republicans oppose religiously-based refusals to serve gay or lesbian people, compared to nearly six in 10 (59 percent) who support such a policy. Conservative Republicans exhibit significantly more support for religiously-based service refusals (65 percent), compared to moderate (44 percent) and liberal (35 percent) Republicans.
Support for Same-Sex Marriage Remains Widespread
Support for same-sex marriage has continued growing since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 rule that established a constitutional right to marry for same-sex couples. More than six in 10 (62 percent) Americans now say gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry legally, while only about half as many (30 percent) are opposed. The increased support for same-sex marriage over the last decade has been dramatic: In 2007, over one in three (36 percent) Americans supported same-sex marriage, while 55 percent were opposed.
Majority support for same-sex marriage extends across all regions of the nation. Residents of Northeastern (70 percent) and Western (67 percent) states are the strongest supporters of same-sex marriage. Robust majorities in the Midwest (60 percent) and South (56 percent) support it as well.
Nearly eight in 10 (79 percent) young Americans (ages 18-29) support gay marriage, with only 16 percent opposed. Even among seniors (ages 65 and older), nearly half (49 percent) favor same-sex marriage today, compared to 43 percent who are opposed.
Majorities of all racial and ethnic groups support same-sex marriage. The strongest levels of support come from Asian-Pacific Islander Americans (75 percent), Americans who identify with another race or as mixed race (68 percent), and Hispanic Americans (65 percent). But majorities of white (62 percent), black (56 percent), and Native Americans (55 percent) also support same-sex marriage.
Most major religious groups in the U.S. now support same-sex marriage, including an overwhelming majority of religiously unaffiliated Americans (82 percent). White evangelical Protestants are the only major religious group in which a majority oppose same-sex marriage (31 percent favor, 60 percent oppose).
Strong majorities of Democrats (77 percent) and independents (65 percent) favor same-sex marriage. While only four in 10 (41 percent) of Republicans currently favor same-sex marriage, support among Republicans has risen by 10 percentage points since 2011, when only 31 percent favored this policy.
The American Values Atlas (AVA) is a project of PRRI. The survey was designed and conducted by PRRI and was made possible by generous grants from The Nathan Cummings Foundation, The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, The Gill Foundation, The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and the United Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock. Results for the nondiscrimination laws and religiously-based service refusal questions are based on a subset of 40,292 telephone interviews (including 24,149 cell phone interviews) conducted between March 14, 2018 and December 16, 2018. The margin of error for these questions is +/- 0.5 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence. Results for the same-sex marriage question are based on a subset of 4,028 telephone interviews (including 2,413 cell phone interviews) conducted between March 14, 2018 and March 25, 2018 and between June 27, 2018 and July 8, 2018. The margin of error for the same-sex marriage question subsample is +/-1.5 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence.
PRRI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy.