New survey also finds nearly two-thirds support transgender military service, with sharp partisan divides
WASHINGTON—Ahead of the landmark Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a new PRRI survey finds a majority (53%) of the public oppose allowing businesses that provide wedding services—such as catering, flowers, and wedding cakes—to refuse services to same-sex couples. Roughly four in ten (41%) favor allowing wedding-related businesses to refuse to serve same-sex couples on religious grounds.
The survey was conducted by PRRI, a nonpartisan research organization, among 2,024 adults between August 2-8, 2017. The survey gauges attitudes on a number of issues impacting the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community, such as non-discrimination laws, same-sex marriage, transgender military service, and religiously based refusals to serve same-sex couples—the crux of the upcoming Supreme Court case.
“While the same-sex marriage wedding services debate is often cast as a divide between religious and non-religious Americans, there is in fact only one major religious group in the country—white evangelical Protestants—in which a majority supports allowing wedding-related businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples on religious grounds,” said PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones. “Notably, a majority of African American Protestants, who are divided on the question of same-sex marriage, oppose allowing these religiously based refusals to serve gay and lesbian people.”
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of white evangelical Protestants and nearly half (49%) of white mainline Protestants believe businesses that provide wedding services should be allowed to refuse services to same-sex couples on religious grounds. A majority of white Catholics (55%), black Protestants (56%), members of non-Christian religious groups (64%), unaffiliated Americans (65%), and Hispanic Catholics (73%) believe that such businesses should provide the same services to same-sex couples as they would to anyone else.
Diverging with President Trump’s recent decision to pull transgender people from military service, nearly two-thirds (64%) of the public favor allowing transgender people to serve in the military, while 30% oppose.
“Americans support allowing transgender people to serve in the U.S. military by a margin of more than two to one,” said PRRI Research Director Dan Cox. “Even if President Trump’s recent order is out of step with the country, because of strong partisan divides on this issue, it nevertheless resonates with his party.”
Democrats are more than twice as likely as Republicans (83% vs. 37%, respectively) to say transgender people should be allowed to serve in the armed forces. By contrast, a majority (57%) of Republicans say transgender people should not be allowed to serve in the military. Independents largely mirror the general public.
Among the findings:
- Support for same-sex marriage continues to rise among the general public. Nearly two-thirds (66%) of Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, while fewer than one-third (28%) oppose. Even a majority (55%) of seniors (age 65 or older) support the legality of same-sex marriage today.
- Americans strongly support non-discrimination laws for LGBT people. More than seven in ten (72%) Americans favor laws that would protect LGBT people from discrimination in jobs, public accommodation, and housing. Roughly one-quarter (24%) of the public oppose such laws.
- A plurality of Americans oppose transgender “bathroom bills.” Half (50%) of the public oppose laws that would require transgender people to use bathrooms that match their birth sex rather than their current gender identity. Less than four in ten (38%) favor such policies.
- Few Americans say religiously affiliated adoption agencies that receive federal funding should be allowed to refuse to place children with qualified gay and lesbian couples. More than two-thirds (68%) of the public oppose allowing agencies that receive federal funding to refuse placing children with gay or lesbian couples, compared to 28% of Americans who favor such a policy.
The topline, full methodology, and additional findings and analysis can be found here: https://www.prri.org/research/poll-wedding-vendors-refusing-service-same-sex-couples-transgender-military-ban/
The survey was designed and conducted by PRRI. The survey was made possible by generous grants from The Arcus Foundation, The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, The Gill Foundation, and The Nathan Cummings Foundation. Results of the survey were based on bilingual (Spanish and English) RDD telephone interviews conducted between August 2, 2017 and August 8, 2017, by professional interviewers under the direction of SSRS. Interviews were conducted among a random sample of 2,024 adults 18 years of age or older living in the United States (1,206 respondents were interviewed on a cell phone). The margin of error for the survey is +/- 2.7 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence. The design effect for the survey is 1.5.
PRRI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization specializing in research at the intersection of religion, values, and public life.