Home > Spotlight Analysis > Most American Religious Groups Support Same-sex Marriage, Oppose Religiously Based Service Refusals
Most American Religious Groups Support Same-sex Marriage, Oppose Religiously Based Service Refusals
Joanna Piacenza, Robert P. Jones, Ph.D.,

newly leaked document shows the Trump administration at least has considered a sweeping executive order that would allow individuals and organizations who have religious or sincerely held moral objections to same-sex relationships or who deny the existence of transgender identity to discriminate against LGBT people without fear of legal consequences.

New PRRI analysis, drawn from a data set of 40,509 interviews conducted throughout 2016 as part of PRRI’s American Values Atlas, reveals that most American religious groups support same-sex marriage and oppose religiously based service refusals.

Overall, a majority (58 percent) of Americans support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. Among religious groups, Unitarian/Universalists (94 percent), Buddhists (85 percent), Jews (73 percent), Hindus (67 percent), white mainline Protestants (63 percent), white Catholics (63 percent), Hispanic Catholics (62 percent), and Orthodox Christians (59 percent) all have majorities supporting same-sex marriage. Black Protestants (45 percent), Muslims (44 percent), and Hispanic Protestants (41 percent) are somewhat divided. Only three religious groups–Mormons (37 percent favor, 55 percent oppose), white evangelical Protestants (31 percent favor, 61 percent oppose), and Jehovah’s Witnesses (25 percent favor, 53 percent oppose)–show majority opposition for same-sex marriage. Combined, these three religious groups comprise only 19 percent of the general population.

There is near consensus among religious groups on the issue of religiously based service refusals. Roughly six in ten (61 percent) Americans oppose allowing a small business owner in their state to refuse to provide products or services to gay or lesbian people, if doing so violates their religious beliefs. That includes not only large majorities of groups who strongly support same-sex marriage, including Unitarian/Universalists (87 percent), Buddhists (76 percent), and Jewish Americans (72 percent), but also majorities of even major religious groups who are divided over or opposed to same-sex marriage.

PRRI White Evangelical Religiously Based Service Refusals

For example, majorities of black Protestants (66 percent), Muslims (60 percent), Hispanic Protestants (52 percent), and Mormons (52 percent)—all groups who themselves have ethnic or religious minority status—all oppose allowing a small business owner to discriminate against gay or lesbian people based on his or her religious beliefs. White evangelical Protestants stand alone as the only group in which a majority does not oppose religiously based service refusals by small businesses (50 percent favor, 42 percent oppose).

For more, explore the religious affiliation and LGBT issue tabs of the American Values Atlas.