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New Survey Shows Broad Support for LGBTQ Rights Nationally, Despite Overall Declines in the Past Year
Topics: LGBTQ

Partisan Polarization on LGBTQ Rights Deepened in 2023, with Republicans Reporting Notable Drops in Support for LGBTQ Rights

WASHINGTON (March 11, 2024)— A new national survey released today by PRRI profiles the growing population of LGBTQ Americans and Americans’ views on LGBTQ rights across all 50 states, based on interviews with more than 22,000 adults throughout 2023 as part of its American Values Atlas.

For the first time since PRRI’s American Values Atlas began tracking nationwide support for three key policies — nondiscrimination protections, religiously based service refusals, and same-sex marriage — PRRI found a decline in support for LGBTQ rights across all three measures in the past year. However, strong majorities of Americans, including many Americans of faith, continue to support nondiscrimination protections and same-sex marriage rights for LGBTQ individuals, and oppose allowing small business owners to refuse service to LGBTQ people based on their religious beliefs.

Support for these policies is starkly divided depending on one’s party, religion, and age. On all three measures, attitudes among Democrats have remained steady in the past year, while opposition to LGBTQ rights has grown among Republicans. This new analysis of all 50 states also shows that support for Christian nationalism is negatively correlated with support for LGBTQ rights.

“Our survey shows that support for LGBTQ rights has dipped slightly from 2022 to 2023, although the vast majority of Americans continue to endorse anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans and the rights of same-sex couples to marry,” said Melissa Deckman, Ph.D., CEO of PRRI. “The growing partisan divide on these issues show the effect of the continuous use of LGBTQ identity and LGBTQ rights as a wedge issue in our nation’s culture wars.”

Support for non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans has dropped four points in the past year, from 80% in 2022 to 76% in 2023.

As of 2023, more than three-quarters of Americans (76%) support policies that protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation; this represents a decline from a high of 80% in 2022. While support for nondiscrimination protections among Democrats stayed steady in the last year, support dropped among Republicans by seven percentage points (from 66% to 59%).

Many religious groups — though not all — registered small declines in support for nondiscrimination protections. Even young Americans, aged 18-29, show a gradual decrease in support for LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws over the last three years, declining from a peak of 83% in 2020 to 75% in 2023.

More than seven in ten residents of red (71%), battleground (75%), and blue (79%) states favor nondiscrimination laws. However, residents of blue states are far more likely to strongly favor LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws compared with their red state counterparts (43% v. 34%).

Opposition to allowing religiously based service refusals has dropped five points in the past year, from 65% of Americans in 2022 to 60% in 2023.

A majority of independents (59%) and more than eight in ten Democrats (82%) oppose allowing small business owners to refuse service to LGBTQ people based on their religious beliefs. Among Republicans, opposition to such refusals has declined to its lowest level since PRRI’s American Values Atlas started measuring this policy (from 40% in 2015 to 34% in 2023).

Though a majority of members of most religious groups oppose allowing religiously based service refusals, just 30% of white evangelical Protestants oppose religiously based service refusals, down from 37% in 2022. Opposition to religious refusals is lowest among red state residents (54%), while two-thirds of residents in blue states (66%) oppose service refusals and 58% of residents in battleground states oppose such refusals.

Support for same-sex marriage has declined among Americans in the last year, dropping from 69% to 67%.

Two-thirds of Americans (67%) support allowing same-sex couples to marry legally, an increase of 13 percentage points from 2014, when 54% supported same-sex marriage, but a decrease since 2022, when 69% of Americans supported same-sex marriage. Older Americans are less supportive of same-sex marriage than younger Americans; however, support among Americans 18 to 29 has seen a gradual decline since 2018, when 79% supported this right, to 71% today. Majorities of most religious traditions favor allowing same-sex couples to marry legally. Yet support for same-sex marriage among some religious groups has declined in the past year, including Hispanic Catholics (75% in 2022 to 68% in 2023).

Geographically, while majorities in almost all states support same-sex marriage rights, there is wide variation. In states where same-sex marriage would be legal if the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell decision were overturned, 72% of residents support same-sex marriage; the percentage who support same-sex marriage is 64% in states where same-sex marriage would not be legal if Obergefell were overturned.

LGBTQ rights drive voting decisions of Democrats more than Republicans, younger Americans more than older Americans.

When asked how LGBTQ rights affects their voting, a plurality of Americans (38%) say this is one of many important factors they consider, 30% say they would only vote for a candidate who shares their views on this issue, and 29% say they do not see LGBTQ rights as a major issue. A plurality of young Americans (38%) say they would only vote for a candidate who shares their views on LGBTQ rights.

Democrats are the most likely to say they would only vote for a candidate who shares their views on this issue (38%), compared with Republicans (29%) and independents (25%).

Christian nationalism rejecters are more likely to support LGBTQ rights than Christian nationalism skeptics, sympathizers, or adherents.

PRRI’s Christian nationalism scale classifies Americans into four categories based on their responses to five statements about the perceived relationship between Christianity, American identity, and the U.S. government. Those Americans who strongly disagree with the core tenets of Christian Nationalism, who PRRI defines as Christian nationalism rejecters, are nearly unanimous (93%) in their support for laws that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing, employment, and accommodation, including more than seven in ten who strongly favor nondiscrimination policies (72%). Only among Christian nationalism adherents (those who agree or completely agree with statements that link American identity with Christianity) does a majority (52%) oppose nondiscrimination laws.

Just 32% of Christian nationalism adherents oppose allowing religiously based refusals compared with 85% of Christian nationalism rejectors. Additionally, just 22% of Christian nationalism adherents support same-sex marriage, compared with 93% of Christian nationalism rejectors.

Across all 50 states, support for Christian nationalism is negatively correlated with support for LGBTQ rights.

LGBTQ Americans skew younger, Democratic, and less religious than other Americans.

As of 2023, one in ten Americans identify as part of the LGBTQ community (10%), including more than one in five Americans ages 18-29 years (22%). Additionally, one in ten Americans ages 30-49 (10%), 6% of Americans between 50 and 64, and 3% of seniors (65 years or older) identify as LGBTQ.
Overall, more than seven in ten LGBTQ Americans belong to the two youngest generational cohorts, with 24% of Gen Z adults and 15% of millennials identifying as LGBTQ. When it comes to politics, a plurality of LGBTQ Americans are Democrats (46%) and nearly six in ten LBGTQ Americans consider themselves liberal (58%).

The majority of LGBTQ Americans are religiously unaffiliated (52%); this is nearly twice the rate of religiously unaffiliated Americans in the general U.S. population (27%). More than one-third of LGBTQ Americans identify with a Christian faith (35%). Jewish Americans make up 3% of the LGBTQ population, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu Americans each account for 1% of the LGBTQ population, and 5% of LGBTQ Americans belong to other non-Christian religions.

By state, the percentage of residents who identify as LGBTQ ranges from a low of 4% (in Alabama and South Carolina) to a high of 16% in New Mexico. In blue states and battleground states, LGBTQ identification among those under 30 has increased by about 15 percentage points since 2016 (from 10% to 25% and from 9% to 23%, respectively). In red states, it has increased by more than ten percentage points (from 9% in 2016 to 20% in 2023).


The survey was designed and conducted by PRRI. The survey was made possible through the generous support of the Arcus Foundation, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the Gill Foundation, and the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock. The survey was carried out among a random representative sample of 22,465 adults (age 18 and up) living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Among those, 20,799 are part of Ipsos’s KnowledgePanel and an additional 1,666 were recruited by Ipsos using opt-in survey panels to increase the sample sizes in smaller states. Interviews were conducted online between March 9 and December 7, 2023. The margin of error for the national survey is +/- 0.82 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence, including the design effect for the survey of 1.56. In addition to sampling error, surveys may also be subject to error or bias due to question wording, context, and order effects.

About PRRI

PRRI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and politics.

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