Home > Research > Survey >Broad Support for LGBT Rights Across all 50 States: Findings from the 2019 American Values Atlas
Broad Support for LGBT Rights Across all 50 States: Findings from the 2019 American Values Atlas
PRRI Staff,
04.14.2020
Topics: LGBT

Profile of LGBT Americans

Demographics

Support for LGBT rights has increased dramatically over the last decade.[1] While the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision ensured the legality of same-sex marriage nationwide, there are still no federal laws providing broad nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Americans, and 30 states also lack such protections. Debates continue regarding whether businesses should be allowed to refuse to serve LGBT people based on the business owners’ religious beliefs.[2]

In the 2019 American Values Atlas, 5% of Americans identify as LGBT, including 2% who identify as gay or lesbian, 3% who identify as bisexual, and less than 1% who identify as transgender.

Americans who identify as LGBT mirror the American population on many demographics. However, those who identify as LGBT are more likely to be women, younger, Democrats or independents, religiously unaffiliated, and lower income than the general population.

Age

LGBT Americans are significantly younger than the general population, perhaps due to being more likely than older generations to understand and express their own identities more freely. Among Americans who identify as LGBT, nearly half (47%) are young adults (ages 18-29), about one-third (32%) are ages 30-49, about one in ten (12%) are ages 50-64, and 8% are seniors (ages 65 and older). As a proportion of each age cohort, young Americans (12%) are more than twice as likely as Americans of any other age group, including ages 30-49 (5%), ages 50-64 (2%), and seniors (2%), to identify as LGBT.

Party Affiliation

LGBT Americans are much more likely to identify as independents (43%) or Democrats (40%) than they are to identify as Republicans (11%). By contrast, a little over one-third (36%) of all Americans are independents, one-third (33%) are Democrats, and 26% are Republicans. As a proportion of each party affiliation group, only 2% of Republicans identify as LGBT, compared to 6% of both independents and Democrats.

Race and Ethnicity

Compared to all Americans, LGBT Americans are more likely to be Hispanic (21% vs. 16%) and are less likely to be white (51% vs. 62%), even though whites make up the majority of the LGBT community. Less than one in ten LGBT Americans identify as multiracial (7%) or as Asian American and Pacific Islander (5%), or Native American (2%).

Religious Affiliation

LGBT Americans are nearly twice as likely as all Americans to identify as religiously unaffiliated (47% vs. 24%). Compared to all Americans, LGBT Americans are half as likely to identify as white mainline Protestant (7% vs. 15%) and white Catholic (6% vs. 12%) and are one-third as likely to identify as white evangelical Protestant (5% vs. 15%). The religious affiliation gaps between LGBT Americans and all Americans is much less pronounced among nonwhite Christian groups.

About one in ten members of non-Christian religions identify as LGBT, including Unitarian Universalists (15%), Buddhists (12%), Muslims (10%), the religiously unaffiliated (10%), Hindus (9%), and Jews (9%). Members of Christian religious traditions are less likely to identify as LGBT with the exception of Orthodox Christians (10%).[3]

Economic Status

LGBT identification is somewhat more common among those with lower incomes than Americans overall. Members of the LGBT community are more likely than Americans overall to make less than $50,000 per year (49% vs. 43%).

Geography

LGBT Americans mostly live in the South (31%) and the West (28%), and a smaller proportion of LGBT Americans live in the Northeast (21%) and the Midwest (21%). As a proportion of all Americans who live in each region, 6% of those who live in the West identify as LGBT, compared to 5% who live in the Northeast as well as 5% who live in the Midwest, and 4% who live in the South.

Religiously Based Refusals to Provide Business Services to Gay or Lesbian People

Overview and Recent Trends: 2015-2019

In 2019, a majority (56%) of Americans said they oppose allowing a small business owner in their state to refuse products or services to gay or lesbian people if providing them would violate their religious beliefs, including 25% who strongly oppose this policy. Close to four in ten (37%) Americans support such religiously based service refusals, including 12% who strongly favor them. Attitudes across 2019 were stable, with no large fluctuations week to week.

Over the last three years, there has been a modest decline in opposition to religiously based refusals to serve gay and lesbian people. Opposition rose slightly between 2015 (59%) and 2016 (61%) but has since dipped slightly each year (60% in 2017, 57% in 2018, and 56% in 2019). During this period, Americans have also become less likely to say they are strongly opposed to religiously based service refusals (33% in 2016 vs. 25% in 2019).

Causes for opinion shifts are difficult to identify. This policy taps into three distinct areas of opinion that could change over time: Attitudes toward LGBT people, views on how small businesses should be regulated, and religious attitudes.

Shifts in Attitudes by Demographic Groups

Shifts among subgroups from 2016 to 2019 appear most prominently among groups that have been most opposed to allowing religiously based service refusals of gay and lesbian people. These groups include Democrats (77% in 2016 to 70% in 2019), the religiously unaffiliated (74% to 64%), young people ages 18-29 (70% to 62%), Americans with postgraduate degrees (68% to 58%), and white mainline Protestants (62% to 54%). However, there are also notable declines in opposition among more divided groups such as Native Americans (56% to 47%) and Mormons (52% to 43%).

Seven in ten (70%) Democrats and a majority (57%) of independents oppose religiously based refusals to serve gay and lesbian people. About four in ten (39%) Republicans oppose allowing small business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian people based on their religious beliefs, compared to a majority (55%) who support such a policy. Opposition to religiously based service refusals has decreased slightly among Democrats and independents since 2016, when 77% of Democrats and 62% of independents opposed religiously based service refusals.

Majorities of Americans of almost every major racial and ethnic group oppose religiously based service refusals. Black Americans (63%) are likeliest to oppose allowing small business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian people based on their religious beliefs, followed by Hispanic (58%), Asian American and Pacific Islander (58%), multiracial (56%), and white (54%) Americans. Native Americans are the only racial group where less than half (47%) oppose religiously based service refusals. Native American’s level of opposition to religiously based service refusals has declined notably since its peak in 2017 (58%). Majorities of white Americans across educational lines oppose religiously based service refusals, though whites with a college degree (57%) are more likely than whites without a degree (53%) to oppose the policy. Opposition among Americans across all racial groups has decreased notably since 2016.

Women (61%) are likelier than men (51%) to oppose religiously based service refusals. Opposition to religiously based service refusals has declined by a similar amount among both genders since 2016 (65% and 56% respectively).

Younger Americans (ages 18-29) are more likely than seniors (ages 65 and older) to oppose religiously based refusals to gay and lesbian people (62% vs. 52%). Young people in 2019 have become less likely to oppose religiously based service refusals than in 2016 (70% in 2016 to 62% in 2019), while seniors have not undergone a major shift in opinion during that time.

Majorities of Americans across educational lines oppose religiously based service refusals. A slim majority (54%) of Americans with a high school degree or less oppose this policy compared to just under six in ten (58%) Americans with a postgraduate degree. Americans with some college experience (56%) and a four-year college degree (57%) fall in between the two groups. Opposition to this policy has decreased notably among postgraduates since 2016 (68%).

Majorities of most major religious groups oppose religiously based service refusals, including six in ten or more Unitarian Universalists (70%), Jews (65%), religiously unaffiliated Americans (64%), Buddhists (63%), black Protestants (63%), Orthodox Christians (61%), Americans who identify with other religions (61%), and Catholics of other races (60%).[4] Majorities of Hispanic Catholics (58%), Hindus (57%), white Catholics (56%), white mainline Protestants (54%), Hispanic Protestants (54%), and Muslims (53%) also oppose this policy. Less than half of other nonwhite Protestants (45%), white evangelical Protestants (44%), Mormons (43%), and Jehovah’s Witnesses (42%) oppose allowing small business owners to refuse to serve gay and lesbian customers if doing so violates their religious beliefs.

Opposition to religiously based service refusals has fallen since 2016 among the religiously unaffiliated (74% in 2016 to 64% in 2019). Opposition has also decreased among Jews (72% to 65%) and Muslims (60% to 53%). Similar declines since 2016 are also seen among both white mainline Protestants (62% in 2016 to 54% in 2019) and Mormons (52% to 43%).

Partisan Differences by Demographic Subgroups

Party by Ideology

A slim majority of liberal Republicans (51%), and a plurality of moderate (48%) Republicans, oppose allowing small business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian people based on their religious beliefs. Only one-third (33%) of conservative Republicans agree. Opposition to religiously based service refusals has dropped notably among liberal Republicans since 2016 (63% to 51%).

A larger ideological divide exists among independents. Just over seven in ten (71%) liberal independents oppose religiously based service refusals compared to nearly six in ten (58%) moderate independents and more than four in ten (44%) conservative independents. Opposition to religiously based service refusals among liberal and moderate independents has dropped somewhat since 2016 (77% and 66% respectively), though both groups closely resemble their views on this policy in 2015.

Democrats are less divided than independents but still show substantial differences by ideology. Just under eight in ten (78%) liberal Democrats, compared to about six in ten moderate (64%) and conservative (60%) Democrats, oppose allowing religiously based service refusals. Both liberal and moderate Democrats are less likely to oppose religiously based service refusals in 2019 than they were in 2016 (85% and 75%).

Liberals across all three partisan groups have exhibited a marked decline in their opposition to religiously based service refusals since 2016.

Party by Age

Among both Republicans and independents, opposition to allowing small business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian people based on their religious beliefs declines as age increases. Both young (ages 18-29) independents (62%) and Republicans (43%) are more likely than their senior counterparts (ages 65 and over) (52% and 36% respectively) to oppose this policy. The age gap is much narrower among Democrats: Young Democrats (73%) are only slightly more likely than senior Democrats (69%) to oppose religiously based service refusals.

Young people ages 18-29 across partisan lines display the most notable drop in opposition to religiously based service refusals since 2016. Opposition among young Republicans (52% to 43%), independents (71% to 62%), and Democrats (82% to 73%) all declined by nine percentage points over three years. Democrats ages 30-49 (79% to 68%) and ages 50-64 (76% to 70%) also display notable drops in opposition to religiously based service refusals in that same time period.

Party by Gender

Across party lines, women are more likely than men to oppose allowing small business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian people based on their religious beliefs. Just over four in ten (41%) Republican women oppose this policy compared to 36% of Republican men. A larger gender gap appears among independents with more than six in ten (62%) women and a slim majority (52%) of men opposing religiously based service refusals. Democrats have a gender gap similar to independents between women (73%) and men (65%).

Looking at gender divides among partisan groups, levels of opposition among several groups has dropped notably since 2016. Democratic men (75% to 65%) exhibit the largest decline over the three-year period, though Democratic women (79% to 73%), independent men (58% to 52%), and Republican women (46% to 41%) all have drops of at least five percentage points.

Party by Race and Ethnicity

Nonwhite Republicans and independents are more likely than their white co-partisans to oppose allowing small business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian people because of their religious beliefs. Close to half (49%) of black Republicans and about four in ten Hispanic (42%), Asian American and Pacific Islander (40%), and multiracial (40%) Republicans oppose this policy, compared to 37% of white Republicans. Among Republicans, Native Americans (32%) are the least likely racial group to oppose religiously based service refusals. Similarly, about six in ten black (64%), Hispanic (60%), and Asian American and Pacific Islander (59%) independents oppose religiously based service refusals compared to 56% of white and 54% of multiracial independents. Just over four in ten (42%) Native American independents also oppose religiously based service refusals. This trend does not appear among Democrats, where approximately two thirds or more of multiracial (72%), white (71%), Asian American and Pacific Islander (71%), Native American (69%), black (66%), and Hispanic (66%) Democrats oppose this policy.

Opposition to religiously based service refusals has declined since 2016 among most racial groups divided by party. Native American Republicans (44% to 32%) and independents (59% to 42%) both saw notable drops in opposition over this period, as did white Democrats (84% to 71%) and black Republicans (59% to 49%).

Notably, educational attainment cuts in opposite directions among white Republicans and Democrats. White Democrats with a college degree are more likely than those without a four-year degree to oppose religiously based refusals to serve gay and lesbian people (78% vs. 68%). By contrast, white Republicans with a college degree are moderately less likely than those without a four-year degree to oppose religiously based service refusals (35% vs. 39%). Just under six in ten white independents across educational lines oppose religiously based service refusals.

White Democrats with a college degree (91% in 2016 to 78% in 2019) and without a degree (76% to 68%) have shown notable declines in their level of opposition to religiously based service refusals since 2016. Additionally, white independents with a four-year college degree (64% to 57%) or without a degree (61% to 55%) have also seen their level of opposition to this policy drop. There has been only modest movement over the last few years in the attitudes of white Republicans, regardless of educational attainment.

Party by Evangelical Identification

Two-thirds (66%) of white evangelical Protestant Democrats oppose religiously based service refusals compared to less than half (46%) of white evangelical Protestant independents and one-third (33%) of white evangelical Protestant Republicans. More than six in ten (62%) white evangelical Protestant Republicans support this policy. Nonwhite evangelicals are similarly stratified by party. More than six in ten (62%) nonwhite evangelical Protestant Democrats oppose these refusals compared to a majority (52%) of independents and less than four in ten (36%) Republicans.

Unlike most other groups, both white and nonwhite evangelical Protestants across party lines have not undergone any major changes in their opinion on religiously based service refusals since 2016.

Racial and Ethnic Differences by Demographic Subgroups

Race and Ethnicity by Age

Opposition to religiously based service refusals decreases with age for all racial and ethnic groups. There is a particularly large age gap between young people (ages 18-29) and seniors (ages 65 and over) among Asian American and Pacific Islanders (64% vs. 44%), while Asian American and Pacific Islanders ages 30-49 (56%) and ages 50-64 (53%) fall in between. Young black (69%), Hispanic (61%), and white (60%) Americans are also more likely than their senior counterparts (57%, 53%, and 52%, respectively) to oppose religiously based service refusals, with people ages 30-49 and 50-64 falling in between the three groups. Younger multiracial Americans ages 18-29 (65%) and ages 30-49 (56%) are more likely than ages 50-64 (49%) and seniors (52%) to oppose religiously based service refusals. Native Americans do not differ in their views about religiously based service refusals across age.

Young Americans ages 18-29 have shown a notable drop in their level of opposition to religiously based service refusals since 2016. Young white (70% to 60%), Hispanic (70% to 61%), and multiracial (73% to 65%) Americans have all undergone notable declines.

Race and Ethnicity by Gender

Across almost every major race and ethnic group, women are more likely than men to oppose religiously based service refusals. Six in ten (60%) white women oppose allowing small business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian people based on their religious beliefs, compared to less than half (48%) of white men. Similar divides between women and men are seen among black (66% vs. 59%), Hispanic (62% vs. 54%), multiracial (60% vs. 52%), and Native Americans (56% vs. 40%). However, no significant gender divide exists among Asian American and Pacific Islanders (61% vs. 56%).

Opposition to religiously based service refusals has declined since 2016 among men. White (54% to 48%), black (66% to 59%), Asian American and Pacific Islander (65% to 56%), and Native American (50% to 40%) men have all shown notable drops in opposition over this time period. White (65% to 60%) and multiracial women (69% to 60%) have undergone similar declines since 2016. Women among all other racial groups also decrease in opposition, but those changes are not statistically significant.

Race and Ethnicity by Educational Attainment

Among several racial groups Americans with a four-year college degree are more likely than Americans without such a degree to oppose religiously based service refusals. Such educational divides between those with and without a college degree are seen among Asian American and Pacific Islander (63% vs. 54%), Hispanic (62% vs. 58%), and white (57% vs. 53%) Americans. However, this trend is not seen among black, multiracial, or Native Americans.

Opposition to religiously based service refusals has dropped since 2016 among Americans with a college degree across almost every racial group. White (65% in 2016 to 57% in 2019), black (72% to 64%), Hispanic (69% to 62%), Asian American and Pacific Islander (69% to 63%), and multiracial (64% to 53%) Americans with a college degree have all undergone notable declines during this period. Americans without a college degree have seen notable drops across racial groups including white (58% in 2016 to 53% in 2019), black (67% to 63%), Hispanic (61% to 58%), Asian American and Pacific Islander (62% to 54%), multiracial (62% to 57%), and Native Americans (57% to 49%).

Religious Differences by Demographic Subgroups

Religious Affiliation by Age

Like other groups, religious groups are generally stratified by age. About half of white evangelical Protestants ages 18-29 (47%) and 30-49 (50%) oppose religiously based service refusals, compared to just over four in ten ages 50-64 and ages 65 and over (41% for both). Notably, solid majorities of black Protestants across age groups oppose religiously based service refusals; two-thirds (66%) of Black Protestants ages 18-29 oppose this policy, compared to 57% of seniors, while ages 30-49 and 50-64 fall in between the two groups. Almost seven in ten (68%) young religiously unaffiliated people oppose religiously based service refusals compared to just over six in ten across all other age groups. No such generational gap exists among white mainline Protestants, Hispanic Protestants, white Catholics, or Mormons.

Younger Americans also exhibit greater declines in their opposition to religiously based service refusals across a number of religious traditions. Since 2016, opposition has dropped among young white mainline Protestants (68% to 57%)black Protestants (72% to 66%), white Catholics (67% to 57%), Hispanic Catholics (73% to 59%), other Catholics (71% to 64%), Mormons (61% to 45%), and the religiously unaffiliated (78% to 68%).

Interestingly, during the period between 2016 and 2019, the level of opposition to religiously based service refusals has grown among a few groups who are generally less opposed to such refusals, including white evangelical Protestants ages 30-49 (41% to 50%) and Hispanic Protestants ages 65 and over (44% to 55%).

Religious Affiliation by Party

Across all religious groups, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to oppose religiously based service refusals. The partisan gap is particularly large among Jews (36% vs. 83% respectively), other nonwhite Protestants (27% vs. 69%), white evangelical Protestants (33% vs. 66%), the religiously unaffiliated (44% vs. 76%), white mainline Protestants (41% vs. 69%), and other nonwhite Catholics (46% vs. 70%).

Between 2016 and 2019, opposition to religiously based service refusals has declined among several groups of religious Democrats: white Catholic Democrats (79% to 68%), white mainline Protestant Democrats (84% to 69%), and religiously unaffiliated Democrats (88% to 76%). But declines have also been notable among religiously unaffiliated Republicans (55% to 44%) and Buddhist independents (77% to 58%).

Geographic Differences

Regions

Majorities of Americans in all four major regions of the country oppose religiously based refusals to serve gay and lesbian people, but there are some modest variations in intensity. Residents of the Northeast (60%) are more likely than residents of the South (53%) to oppose religiously based service refusals, while residents of the West (57%) and Midwest (55%) fall in between. Opposition to religiously based service refusals has declined by about five percentage points across all regions since 2016.

States

Half or more of Americans in 41 states believe small business owners in their state should not be allowed to refuse service to gay and lesbian people. The lowest levels of opposition to religiously based service refusals is found in states across the West, Midwest, and the South: Alabama (49%), Mississippi (48%), South Carolina (48%), West Virginia (48%), Idaho (47%), Arkansas (46%), Alaska (45%), North Dakota (43%), and South Dakota (42%).

In contrast, Northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and Western states express the strongest opposition to religiously based service refusals. At least six in ten residents of Hawaii (64%), Connecticut (63%), Maine (63%), Oregon (62%), New Hampshire (61%), New York (61%), California (60%), and Massachusetts (60%) oppose allowing small business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian customers.

What are the Strongest Predictors of Opposing Religiously Based Service Refusals?

A logistic regression model shows the strongest independent predictors of strongly opposing religiously based service refusals, while accounting for all other variables in the model.

Notably, religious affiliation serves as the largest independent predictor of strongly opposing a policy that allows small business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian people because of their religious beliefs. Members of almost every religious group are significantly more likely than white evangelical Protestants to oppose this policy. Members of other religious groups stand out as 3 times more likely than white evangelical Protestants to hold this view, making this the largest effect in the entire model. Unitarian Universalists (2.4), Jews (2.3), the religiously unaffiliated (2.2), Buddhists (2.1), and Orthodox Christians (2.1) are all at least twice as likely as white evangelical Protestants to strongly oppose religiously based service refusals. Members of nearly all Christian subgroups are also more likely than white evangelical Protestants to oppose religiously based service refusals, but the effects are smaller than those among non-Christian religious groups (ranging from 1.3 to 1.5 times more likely).

Political affiliation also plays a substantial role in determining opinions on religiously based service refusals. Democrats are 2.3 times more likely than Republicans to strongly oppose this policy. Independents are 1.6 times more likely than Republicans to hold this view. A similar trend is also seen with ideology as liberals are 2.2 times more likely than conservatives to oppose religiously based service refusals. Moderates are 1.3 times more likely to strongly oppose this policy than conservatives.

Socioeconomic status serves as another important predictor of likelihood to oppose religiously based service refusals. Americans with household incomes greater than $200,000 or between $150,000 and $200,000 are each 1.5 times more likely than someone with an income of less than $30,000 to strongly oppose religiously based service refusals. Americans with household incomes between $100,000 and $150,000 are 1.4 times more likely to oppose it and Americans with household incomes between $75,000 and $100,000 are 1.1 times more likely to oppose it. Compared to those with a high school degree, postgraduates and college graduates are each more likely than someone with a high school degree or less to oppose this policy (1.3 and 1.1 times more likely, respectively).

Members of the LGBT community are 1.8 times more likely than those who do not identify as LGBT to strongly oppose allowing business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian people because of their religious beliefs. There is a clear gender gap, with women 1.5 times more likely than men to strongly oppose this policy. Age also plays a role with young people ages 18-29 1.4 times more likely than seniors ages 65 and over to strongly oppose religiously based service refusals. Interestingly, Asian American and Pacific Islanders (1.3 times) are less likely than white Americans to strongly oppose religiously based service refusals.

Nondiscrimination Protections for LGBT People

Overview and Recent Trends: 2015-2019

Majorities of nearly every major American demographic group have consistently favored or strongly favored nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people since 2015. Currently, 72% of Americans favor laws that would protect LGBT people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing, including 30% who strongly favor the policy. Only about one in five (21%) Americans oppose these protections.

The current level of support (72%) has remained relatively stable since PRRI began asking this question in 2011. Since 2011, support has hovered around seven in ten Americans (71% in 2011, 73% in 2013, 72% in 2014, 71% in 2015, 72% in 2016, 70% in 2017, and 69% in 2018).[6] Across the 40 weeks in the field in 2019, support for nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people stayed relatively static at about seven in ten, though support increased slightly to about three in four at the end of the year.

Changes in Intensity

Despite a slight increase in overall favor for nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people, there has been 5-point drop in the share of Americans who strongly favor these protections between 2019 and past years. Currently, 30% of Americans strongly favor nondiscrimination policies, down from 35% in 2018 and 2017, and 36% in 2015. This decline in intensity is more than matched by growth in the softer “favor” category: 42% of Americans favored nondiscrimination protections, an 8-point increase from 2018 (34%).

This decline in intensity is primarily driven by shifts in intensity among Democrats over the last year. In 2015, 47% of Democrats strongly favored nondiscrimination protections, increasing to 50% in 2017 and 2018, before dropping ten percentage points to 40% in 2019. The drop-off in strongly favoring nondiscrimination protections is less dramatic among independents, but still present: 37% in 2015, 36% in 2017, 34% in 2018, and 29% in 2019. Strong favorability among Republicans has been much more consistent: 21% in 2015, and 19% in each of 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Declines in strong favorability for LGBT nondiscrimination protections among Democrats are primarily concentrated among the party’s more liberal members. In 2019, a slim majority (52%) of liberal Democrats strongly favor nondiscrimination protections, a 13-point decline from 2018 when 65% strongly favored protections. The decline is less pronounced among moderate Democrats (38% to 33%). The share of conservative Democrats who strongly favor nondiscrimination protections has not changed from 2018 to 2019 (25% in both years).

Demographic Differences

Younger Americans have consistently been more likely than older Americans to favor nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people, though age gaps have shrunk since 2015. Just under eight in ten (78%) young Americans ages 18-29 favor nondiscrimination protections, a marginal increase from 2018 (76%), but slightly lower than their peak of 80% in 2015. Levels of support in 2019 among Americans ages 30-49 (75%) and ages 50-64 (70%) surpassed their previous highs (73% and 68% in 2015, respectively). While support is lower among senior Americans (ages 65 and older), their support in 2019 (63%) is higher than in previous years (61% in 2015 and 2017, and 59% in 2018).

There is a distinct gender gap, particularly among younger Americans (ages 18-29). Young women are 11 percentage points more likely than young men to favor nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Americans (83% vs. 72%). This gap decreases with age and is smallest among seniors age 65 and over (65% for women and 60% for men).

Nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people have bipartisan support, with 81% of Democrats, 72% of independents, and 61% of Republicans supporting this policy. In recent years, support among Republicans and independents had fallen slightly, but support has rebounded over the last year among both Republicans (56%) and independents (70%).

There is also majority support for LGBT nondiscrimination laws across all racial and ethnic groups, including 72% of white Americans, 72% of Hispanic Americans, 72% of Black Americans, and 71% of both Asian American and Pacific Islander and multiracial Americans. Support among Native Americans is lower (57%) and has decreased since 2015 (64%). Notably, Black Americans (72%) have become significantly more supportive of nondiscrimination protections since 2015 (65%).

About two-thirds of men (67%) and three quarters of women (76%) favor nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people. Women (35%) are much more likely than men (24%) to say they strongly favor these protections. Support among women has increased modestly since 2015 (74%).

Americans with at least some college education are more likely than those with no college education to support nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people. Around two-thirds (65%) of Americans with a high school degree or less favor this policy, compared to 74% of Americans with some college education, 79% of Americans with a four-year college degree, and 78% of Americans with a postgraduate degree. Current levels of support represent a marginal increase since 2018 among Americans with a four-year degree (74%) and among those with a high school degree or less (62%).

Solid majorities of all major religious groups support nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people, with the exception of Jehovah’s Witnesses (50%). Three in four or more Unitarian Universalists (88%), religiously unaffiliated Americans (78%), Jews (75%), and Hispanic Catholics (75%) support nondiscrimination protections.[7] At least seven in ten white Catholics (74%), other nonwhite Catholics (74%), Buddhists (74%), white mainline Protestants (74%), black Protestants (72%), and Mormons (70%) favor legal protections for LGBT people. Support is somewhat lower among Hindus (68%), Hispanic Protestants (67%), Muslims (64%), Orthodox Christians (63%), white evangelical Protestants (61%), and other nonwhite Protestants (59%).

Partisan Differences by Demographic Subgroups

Party by Trump Favorability

A majority of Americans who express a favorable view of President Trump support nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people (61%), though support is higher among Americans who hold unfavorable views of Trump (81%). Across party lines, Americans who express favorable views of Trump are 16 percentage points less likely than those who express unfavorable views of Trump to support protections. This 16-point gap is identical among Republicans (59% among those who express favorable views of Trump and 76% among those who express unfavorable views of Trump), independents (63% and 79% respectively), and Democrats (69% and 85% respectively).

Party by Ideology

While there are variations across the ideological spectrum, majorities of all partisan ideological groups support nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Americans. This includes 57% of conservative Republicans, 71% of moderate Republicans, and 70% of liberal Republicans. Conservative independents (61%) generally resemble conservative or moderate Republicans in their favorability, while moderate independents (77%) and liberal independents (80%) are more likely to support protections. Conservative Democrats (71%) are less likely than moderate (80%) or liberal Democrats (86%) to support protections.

Party by Age

Majorities of Americans in all age groups favor nondiscrimination, regardless of their party identification. Favor is highest among younger Democrats ages 18-29 (85%) and ages 30-49 (84%). Just under eight in ten (78%) young independents ages 18-29, and two-thirds (66%) of young Republicans ages 18-29 favor nondiscrimination protections. Favor is lowest among Republican seniors age 65 and over (54%), but still reaches a majority.

Party by Gender

Across party lines, women are more likely than men to favor nondiscrimination protections. The gender gap is somewhat smaller among Republican men (60%) and women (64%) than it is among Democratic men (77%) and women (84%), and independent men (69%) and women (76%).

Party by Race and Ethnicity

There are some notable divisions by race, particularly among Democrats and independents. White Democrats (84%) are more likely than Hispanic (79%), black (76%), or Native American Democrats (62%) to favor nondiscrimination protections. Multiracial (85%) and Asian American and Pacific Islander Democrats (83%) are about as likely as white Democrats to favor nondiscrimination protections. White independents (74%) are slightly more likely than black (70%) or multiracial independents (69%) to favor nondiscrimination protections. Intra-party differences are less pronounced among Republicans. With the exception of Native American Republicans (42%), differences between white Republicans (62%) and other racial groups are not statistically significant.

Support for nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people generally increases with educational attainment, regardless of partisanship. The education gap is particularly stark among white Americans. White Republicans who have less than a four-year college degree (59%) are the least likely partisan group to support nondiscrimination protections. Support increases to nearly seven in ten (69%) among white Republicans with a four-year degree or more. The education gap is similar among white Democrats: 79% of those without a four-year degree and 90% of those with a four-year degree or more favor protections. White independents fall in the middle (71% for non-college graduates and 79% with a college degree or more), and the education gap is smaller than among Democrats or Republicans.

Party by Evangelical Identification

White evangelical Protestant Republicans (54%) are one of the least likely groups to favor nondiscrimination protections but favor still reaches a majority among this group. White evangelical Protestant independents (63%) and Democrats (78%) are more in favor of such protections. Favor among nonwhite evangelicals follows a similar pattern: 56% of nonwhite evangelical Republicans are in favor of protections, compared to 61% of independents and 71% of Democrats.

Racial and Ethnic Differences by Demographic Subgroups

Race and Ethnicity by Age

Support for nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people decreases with age for all racial and ethnic groups. The biggest differences between the youngest Americans ages 18-29 and the oldest Americans ages 65 and older come among multiracial Americans (80% vs. 55%) and Asian American and Pacific Islanders (77% vs. 59%). The age gap is smaller among white Americans (79% vs. 64%), Hispanic Americans (76% vs 64%), and black Americans (75% vs. 63%). Support among the middle age groups (ages 30 to 49 and 50 to 64) falls in between the youngest and oldest age groups for each racial and ethnic group.

Race and Ethnicity by Gender

Across major race and ethnic groups, women are consistently more likely than men to favor nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people. The gender gap is largest among multiracial Americans, with 78% of multiracial women and 65% of multiracial men saying they support nondiscrimination protections. The gender gap between women and men is smaller among white Americans (76% and 69%, respectively), black Americans (76% and 68%, respectively), and Hispanic Americans (77% and 68%, respectively). Differences between Asian-American and Pacific Islander women (73%) and men (70%) are not statistically significant. Native American men and women stand out both for their lower levels of favor (58% and 57%, respectively), and for their lack of a gender gap.

Race and Ethnicity by Educational Attainment

Americans with four-year college degrees or postgraduate degrees are more likely than Americans with lower levels of education to favor nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people, regardless of race or ethnicity. The education gap between Americans without a college degree and Americans with a college degree or more is larger among black (69% and 82%, respectively) and white Americans (69% and 79%) than among Asian American and Pacific Islander (68% and 75%), Hispanic (71% and 78%), multiracial (70% and 74%), or Native Americans (57% and 60%).

Religious Differences by Demographic Subgroups

Religious Affiliation by Age

Like other demographic groups, younger members of most religious groups are more likely than their older counterparts favor nondiscrimination protections. Support for nondiscrimination protections win broad majorities across nearly every age group among the major religious groups. Gaps between the youngest age group (ages 18-29) and the oldest (ages 65 and older) range from 12 points to 16 points for most major religious groups. However, the age gap is larger among other nonwhite Protestants, and other nonwhite Protestant seniors are the only group who do not express majority favor for protections (69% among ages 18-29, and 45% among ages 65 and over).[8] The age gap between young people and seniors is smaller among white Catholics (76% vs. 68%) and Hispanic Protestants (67% vs. 62%).

For the first time, a majority (53%) of white evangelical Protestants over age 65 favor LGBT nondiscrimination protections, up from 45% in 2018. Younger white evangelical Protestants are also more likely to favor nondiscrimination protections, including those ages 18-29 (69%) and ages 30-49 (71%).

Religious Affiliation by Party

Across all religious groups, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to favor nondiscrimination protections, while independents typically fall between members of the two parties. The partisan divide is most notable among other nonwhite Protestants (41% among Republicans, 75% among Democrats), Jews (52% among Republicans, 85% among Democrats), and white evangelical Protestants (54% among Republicans, 78% among Democrats). The partisan gap is smallest among black Protestants, with 69% of Republicans favoring protections, compared to 75% of Democrats.

Geographic Differences

Regions

There are relatively few regional differences in support for nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people. More than seven in ten Americans in the Northeast (75%), West (73%), and Midwest (72%) favor nondiscrimination protections. Americans living in the South (68%) are slightly less likely than Americans in other regions to favor protections. Support has generally increased uniformly from 2018 (72% in the Northeast and West, 68% in the Midwest, and 65% in the South).

States

With the exception of Alaska (59%), more than six in ten residents of all states and the District of Columbia favor nondiscrimination protections. States generally align with their regional attitudes: slightly higher favor in the northeastern, western, and midwestern states, with somewhat lower favor in the southern states. Support for LGBT nondiscrimination protections has either grown or not changed significantly in nearly every state from 2018.

Support for nondiscrimination protections reaches three in four or more among residents of Massachusetts (78%), Colorado (77%), Connecticut (77%), California (76%), Maine (76%), Rhode Island (76%), New Hampshire (75%), and New York (75%). The lowest levels of favor primarily come from states in the south. At its lowest levels, support dips below two-thirds of residents of Alaska (59%), Montana (62%), Louisiana (63%), Oklahoma (63%), Alabama (64%), Kentucky (64%), Wyoming (64%), West Virginia (64%), Tennessee (65%), and Arkansas (66%). Support in the other states ranges between two-thirds and three in four residents.

Support for Same-Sex Marriage

Overview and Recent Trends: 2007-2019

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, support for same-sex marriage has increased substantially. Currently, more than six in ten (62%) Americans say gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry legally, while about half as many (33%) are opposed.[9] These results are holding steady from support for same-sex marriage in 2018 (62%) and represent a nearly ten-point increase from 2015, when a smaller majority (53%) of Americans supported same-sex marriage, and almost four in ten (37%) opposed this policy. The increase from 2007 is even larger, when just over one-third (36%) of Americans supported same-sex marriage, while a majority (55%) were opposed.[10]

In addition to the overall uptick in support for same-sex marriage, the intensity of support has grown, while strong opposition to same-sex marriage has fallen. In 2007, Americans were substantially more likely to strongly oppose same-sex marriage (24%) rather than strongly favor (13%). Today, the opposite is true: about one in four (26%) strongly favor same-sex marriage, while only 13% are strongly opposed. Still, the percentage of Americans who strongly favor same-sex marriage has decreased from 31% in 2018, while those who are strongly opposed have remained relatively stable (14% in 2018).

There is a broad consensus among younger Americans (ages 18-29) that same-sex marriage should be legal: nearly three in four (73%) support same-sex marriage, while one in four (25%) are opposed. Majorities of Americans ages 30-49 (63%) and ages 50-64 (58%) also support same-sex marriage. Older Americans are less supportive but increasing in support: 2019 marks the first year that seniors (ages 65 and older) reached majority support, with 51% favoring same-sex marriage, while about four in ten (41%) are opposed.

Although women (65%) are more likely than men (58%) to support same-sex marriage, generational divides cut across gender. Younger men (70%) are substantially more likely than senior men (50%) to favor legalizing same-sex marriage; similarly, younger women (77%) are substantially more likely than senior women (51%) to be in support of same-sex marriage.

Partisan Differences and Trends

Partisan gaps in views of same-sex marriage persist. Seven in ten (70%) Democrats and two-thirds (66%) of independents favor same-sex marriage, compared to less than half (47%) of Republicans. Support among Democrats has increased by 12 percentage points since 2011, when a majority (58%) favored allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. Democrats’ support for same-sex marriage hovered around two-thirds from 2012 to 2015 and has been above the seven-in-ten mark from 2016 onward.

Support among Republicans for same-sex marriage has risen 16 percentage points since 2011 when only 31% were in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, compared to nearly three-quarters (73%) of Republicans who were opposed.[11] In 2011, less than half (47%) of independents favored same-sex marriage, which has increased nearly 20 percentage points to its current level (66%).

Party by Trump Favorability

Unsurprisingly, among those who view Trump unfavorably, nearly three in four (74%) support same-sex marriage, compared to just under half (48%) who viewed Trump favorably. Among Americans who view President Donald Trump favorably, Republicans (43%) are less likely to support same-sex marriage than Democrats (52%) and independents (55%). By contrast, among Americans who view President Donald Trump unfavorably, majorities support same-sex marriage across partisan lines: Republicans (63%), Democrats (74%), and independents (76%).

Party by Ideology

Majorities of almost all partisan ideological groups support same-sex marriage, with the exception of conservative Republicans (40%). Support jumps to about six in ten for both moderate (62%) and liberal (57%) Republicans. A slim majority (52%) of conservative independents favor same-sex marriage, while 68% of moderate independents and 78% of liberal independents agree. A similar gap is seen among conservative (56%), moderate (64%), and liberal (82%) Democrats.

Party by Age

There is a slightly larger generation gap among Republicans and independents on the issue of same-sex marriage than among Democrats. Just under six in ten (57%) young Republicans ages 18-29 support same-sex marriage, compared to about one-third (34%) of Republican seniors (ages 65 and older). Majorities of independents across ages support same-sex marriage, though young independents are more supportive than seniors (77% vs. 55%). Young Democrats are also more supportive of this policy than senior Democrats, though the divide is not as large (79% vs. 66%).

Religious Differences by Demographic Subgroups

Majorities of most major religious groups in the U.S. support same-sex marriage, including more than three quarters of religiously unaffiliated Americans (76%) and roughly two-thirds of Hispanic Catholics (68%), white mainline Protestants (64%), and white Catholics (63%). Yet, support among the religiously unaffiliated has declined from its high point one year ago (82%), while opposition has increased from 12% to 19% in the 2018-2019 period.

Slim majorities of black Protestants (54%) and other nonwhite Protestants (53%) support same-sex marriage. Hispanic Protestants are more divided with just under half (47%) favoring same-sex marriage, while 49% are opposed. Among major religious groups, majority opposition to same-sex marriage remains confined to white evangelical Protestants. Just over four in ten (41%) white evangelical Protestants support same-sex marriage, while 53% are opposed. However, since 2018, support among white evangelical Protestants has risen significantly from 31% and opposition has declined from 60%.

There are notable generational gaps among white evangelical Protestants. A slim majority (51%) of younger white evangelical Protestants ages 18-49 favor same-sex marriage compared to about one-third (34%) of white evangelical Protestants ages 50 and over. Among most other religious groups, there are slightly more pronounced gaps between those ages 18-49 and those age 50 and older: white Catholics (75% vs. 54%), nonwhite Catholics (71% vs. 59%), nonwhite Protestants (57% vs. 47%), and the religiously unaffiliated (81% vs 69%). Since 2018, support has risen among nonwhite Protestants ages 50 and over (36% to 47%).

Racial and Ethnic Differences

Majorities of all racial and ethnic groups support same-sex marriage, including just under two-thirds of multiracial (65%), Hispanic (64%), and Asian American and Pacific Islanders (64%), and about six in ten white (62%) and black Americans (58%).[12]

There is a gender gap among both white and black Americans on the issue of same-sex marriage. White women (65%) are more likely than white men (59%) to support same-sex marriage. A similar trend is seen among black women (63%) and men (51%).

White Americans with a higher level of educational attainment are substantially more likely to support same-sex marriage. Nearly seven in ten (69%) white Americans with a college degree favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, compared to 58% of white Americans without a college degree. Nonwhite Americans do not differ significantly in their views on same-sex marriage by educational attainment (60% vs. 66%).

Geographic Differences

Majorities of Americans in all four major regions of the U.S. support the legality of same-sex marriage, though there are some variations in intensity. Two-thirds (67%) of Northeastern residents favor same-sex marriage compared to less than six in ten (57%) Southerners. Residents of the Midwest (64%) and the West (62%) fall in between the two. Support for same-sex marriage has declined among Westerners since 2018 (67%).

Appendix I. Regression Output

Appendix II. Survey Methodology

The 2019 American Values Atlas (AVA) is a project of PRRI. Results for all demographic, religious affiliation, and political affiliation questions were based on 53,474 bilingual telephone interviews (including 33,708 cell phone interviews) conducted between January 2, 2019 and December 30, 2019 by professional interviewers under the direction of SSRS. Results for questions on specific issues are based on a subset of 40,357 telephone interviews (including 26,142 cell phone interviews) conducted between March 26, 2019 and December 29, 2019. The survey was made possible by generous support from the Arcus Foundation, the E. Rhodes & Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, the Gill Foundation, and Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock.

Throughout 2019, at least 1,000 interviews were completed each week, with about 600 interviews conducted among respondents on their cell phones. Mid-year, the cell phone proportion was increased to about 700 per week. Each week, interviewing occurred over a five- or six-day period, starting Tuesdays or Wednesdays and going through Sunday or Monday. The selection of respondents within households was accomplished by randomly requesting to speak with the youngest adult male or female currently living in the household.

Data collection was based on stratified, single-stage, random-digit-dialing (RDD) of landline telephone households and randomly generated cell phone numbers. The sample was designed to represent the total U.S. adult population from all 50 states, including Hawaii and Alaska, and the District of Columbia. The landline and cell phone samples were provided by Marketing Systems Group.

The weighting was accomplished in two separate stages. The first stage of weighting corrects for different probabilities of selection associated with the number of adults in each household and each respondent’s telephone usage patterns. In the second stage, sample demographics were balanced to match target population parameters for gender, age, education, race and Hispanic ethnicity, region (U.S. Census definitions), population density, and telephone usage. The population density parameter was derived from 2010 Census data. The telephone usage parameter came from an analysis of the January-June 2017 National Health Interview Survey. All other weighting parameters were derived from an analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s March 2017 Current Population Survey.

The sample weighting was accomplished using iterative proportional fitting (IFP), a process that simultaneously balances the distributions of all variables. Weights are trimmed so that they do not exceed 4.0 or fall below 0.25 to prevent individual interviews from having too much influence on the final results. The use of these weights in statistical analysis ensures that the demographic characteristics of the sample closely approximate the demographic characteristics of the target populations.

The table below shows the sample sizes for all 50 states for both sample and issue subsample. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 0.4 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence. The margin of error for issue subsample is +/- 0.6 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence. The design effect for the total sample and the issue subsample is 1.3. In addition to sampling error, surveys may also be subject to error or bias due to question-wording, context, and order effects.



Endnotes

[1] https://www.prri.org/research/fifty-years-after-stonewall-widespread-support-for-lgbt-issues-findings-from-american-values-atlas-2018/

[2] https://www.freedomforallamericans.org/states/

[3]Sample size for Unitarian Universalists is n=87; results should be interpreted with caution.

[4]Sample size for Unitarian Universalists is n=87; results should be interpreted results with caution.

[5]Members of other religions consist of respondents who wrote in their own religion on the survey which did not correspond with any of the listed religious affiliations.

[6]Sources: PRRI 2014 LGBT Issues & Trends Survey; PRRI May 2013 Religion & Politics Survey; PRRI 2011 LGBT Survey. Survey in 2011 asked only about protections for employment, and surveys from 2011 to 2014 did not include transgender in the question wording.

[7] Sample size for Unitarian Universalists is n=87; results should be interpreted with caution.

[8]“Other nonwhite Protestants” refers to nonwhite Protestants who do not identify as black or Hispanic.

[9] The question on same-sex marriage was not included in the full 2019 LGBT Issue Module for the American Values Atlas. Analysis of 2019 attitudes on same-sex marriage in this section is based on combined results (N=4,118) of four PRRI surveys: a survey of 1,100 respondents conducted in April 2019, a survey of 1,009 respondents conducted in July 2019, a survey of 1,009 respondents conducted in September 2019, and a survey of 1,000 respondents conducted in November 2019.

[10] Pew Research Center for The People & The Press and Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Religion and Public Life Survey, August 2007.

[11] PRRI 2011 Millennials, Religion & Gay and Lesbian Issues Survey.

[12] Asian American and Pacific Islanders have a sample size of 99.


Recommended Citation 

“Broad Support for LGBT Rights Across all 50 States: Findings from the 2019 American Values Atlas” PRRI (April 14, 2020). https://www.prri.org/research/broad-support-for-lgbt-rights/