Mississippi businesses and state employees are now able to deny services to same-sex couples by citing religious beliefs, after a federal appeals court in Mississippi lifted an injunction Thursday.
Using findings from the new PRRI American Values Atlas, we are able to see where Mississippi residents stand on religiously based service refusals of gay and lesbian people—and how race and religion impact these views.
While Mississippi residents are less likely than the general public to oppose service refusals of gay and lesbian people on religious grounds, a majority of Mississippians still stand in opposition: 52 percent oppose allowing small business owners to refuse to provide products or services to gay or lesbian people, if doing so would violate their religious beliefs.
White and black Mississippians offer contrasting views. While nearly seven in ten (69 percent) black Mississippi residents oppose service refusals, white residents are slightly more likely to support (48 percent) such a policy than oppose it (41 percent).
Religious affiliation greatly impacts attitudes on this issue: Residents who do identify as white evangelical Protestant are about half as likely to oppose service refusals than those who do not. White evangelical Protestants, who constitute 31 percent of Mississippi’s population but roughly 17 percent of the public overall, express majority support for service refusals. Fifty-eight percent favor allowing small business owners to refuse service on religious grounds, while 33 percent are opposed. More than six in ten (61 percent) Mississippi residents who do not identify as white evangelical Protestant oppose allowing small business owners to refuse services to gays or lesbians on religious grounds.
On same-sex marriage, Mississippi residents are nearly mirror opposites of the country overall. A majority (56 percent) oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, while 37 percent favor it. Nationwide, 58 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage. Nearly seven in ten (69 percent) Mississippi white evangelical Protestants oppose same-sex marriage, while residents who do not identify as white evangelical Protestants are more divided: 44 percent support such unions while 50 percent oppose it.
For more, read “Who Sees Discrimination? Attitudes on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Race, and Immigration Status.”