Beliefs Revelations

Most Americans oppose LGBT discrimination

Revelations-Series-Banner-770x150(RNS) Most Americans oppose religious exemptions to LGBT nondiscrimination laws, according to a new survey.

The report comes as a raft of bills before state legislatures would allow people to refuse service or accommodations to gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people based on their religious beliefs.

The Public Religion Research Institute, drawing on 42,000 interviews conducted in 2015, issued on Thursday (Feb. 18) a new analysis of the American Values Atlas with a look at LGBT issues.

Key findings include: 

  • 71 percent– including majorities in all 50 states and 30 major metropolitan areas — support laws that would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination in jobs, housing and public accommodations.
  • 59 percent oppose allowing small-business owners in their state to refuse service to gay and lesbian people, if doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs.
  • 53 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, compared with 37 percent (including most evangelical Protestants and Mormons) who oppose it.

    "Support for Same-sex Marriage by State." Graphic courtesy of PRRI

    “Support for Same-sex Marriage by State.” Graphic courtesy of PRRI

Even among groups that oppose same-sex marriage, support for protection from discrimination crosses all “partisan, religious, geographic, and demographic lines,” said PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones in a press release.

This includes:

  • 57 percent of white evangelical Protestants
  • 72 percent of Mormons
  • 65 percent of black Americans

But support for anti-discrimination laws breaks down by party lines over religious exemptions, said Jones. The survey found that 74 percent of Democrats but only 40 percent of Republicans oppose allowing small-business owners to refuse to provide products or services to gay or lesbian people if doing so violates their religious beliefs.

"Views on LGBT Nondiscrimination Laws by Religious Affiliation." Graphic courtesy of PRRI

“Views on LGBT Nondiscrimination Laws by Religious Affiliation.” Graphic courtesy of PRRI

 (Cathy Lynn Grossman is senior national correspondent for RNS)

About the author

Cathy Lynn Grossman

Cathy Lynn Grossman specializes in stories drawn from research and statistics on religion, spirituality and ethics. She also writes frequently on biomedical ethics and end-of-life-issues


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  • But it’s not really discrimination. It’s, “refusing to participate in the commercial activity and blocking access to government services of people whose existence is an affront to your religious sensibilities”.

    And it’s not really based on bigotry because my interpretation of the Bible says it’s OK to treat certain people maliciously. Therefore, my religious belief must be expressed by attacking the rights of others. As a Christian, my beliefs are more important than the lives of others.

  • Yoh- you in no way represent Christianity as a whole– and you sound like some sort of Bible belt Talliban whack-job when you say things like “my beliefs are more important than the lives others.” Huh??? Where does the Bible say it’s o.k. to treat people maliciously. Mainline denominations have as part of the baptismal vow a promise to “respect the dignity of all people.”

    So, do you equally discriminate against people of other faiths? We do not live, by the way, in a theocracy. So come up out of your burka for some fresh air– and revisit what the Bible REALLY says– you know– radical stuff like “Love your neighbor” and “In Christ there is no east or west, north or south, Greek or Jew, male or female.” And please don’t malign my christian faith by hating in the name of God. (God doesn’t go for that either….)

  • But do we have to tolerate Sexual Perversion ?? Should we allow the State to mandate Perverts to control our Churches and schools? Are we really born Homosexual and are we really born to be Bisexual? Should we have no control over our Sexual Desires? Should we tolerate Pedophilia? In the future will we decide that we are born to be Rapists?
    Our nation is losing all common sense and embracing the Pagan ways of old ..GOD Help Us?

  • If you cannot distinguish between consenting adults in a mutually fulfilling and supportive relationship. And people who rape others or molest children, you have no business making any moral comments about anyone.

    If you are worried about sexual perverts controlling your churches, you are either a catholic priest or uncontrollably paranoid.

    Do we have to tolerate people who don’t believe our Christian story? God knows what they will do next– perhaps preach religious freedom!

  • Maybe the question who opposes lgbt people from housing, public and jobs is the wrong question! I do not oppose them from having these basic necessities of life and would not discriminate. What i oppose is hijacking words like “marriage” and using that as a club (many conventional people) against what the word marriage has meant for centuries; between a man and a woman. quit stealing together have your lifestyle that’s okay with me..but don’t hijack “marriage” in it’s true context. you can have nice jobs, housing and public helps but using sexuality as a (race-issue-like) as Blacks had to with this gov’t is totally different than one’s sexuality as the issue. If you disagree that does not make me a bigot of someones different what you one is stopping you , but don’t try to “re-normalize” the word marriage as meaning anything than what it has always been.

  • Support for religious objection business owners skyrockets to over 80% when the question is specifically about the right to refuse to participate in a homosexual wedding, rather than simply “refuse service”. The American people understand the difference, but RNS and other liberal talking heads refuse to allow it.

  • This is why I think, based on the things the SCOTUS has said and (more importantly) not said, that this is something they are going to leave to the states. No matter how they answer a survey’s broad and abstract questions, very few people in this country — except for the very warped and resentful — actually want to violate another person’s conscience when it comes down to it.

    There may come a time when the winds of popular sentiment (which they’re not supposed to heed, but anyway) will make them willing to rule about this in some manner, but by that time I think the fun will have worn off of rubbing others’ noses in one’s sexuality, and in many places Bible-believing Christians will have simply vacated the wedding industry anyway, which is pretty much the only context where this question comes up, so no huge loss.

    IOW, we will have wasted endless time, money and national goodwill on a sexual temper tantrum. Ho-hum.

  • But do we have to tolerate Christian Perversion? Should we allow the State to mandate Christians to control our Politics and schools? Are we really born Christians and are we really born to be Religious? Should we have no control over our Christian Desires? Should we tolerate Pedophilia? In the future will we decide that we are born to be Rapists?
    Our nation is losing all common sense and embracing the Christian ways of old. GODDESS Help Us?

  • So many strawmen, it took a whole hay field to build them. Just remember, your position makes you a horrible human being and that’s all there is to it. Your belief in your particular sky daddy has warped your brain. A gay person born on the other side of the planet will still be gay. You on the other hand would have been indoctrinated into an alternate belief system. How’s that sit with you? Your decision to be a hateful Christian is all on you buddy. All on you

  • That’s so nice. You’ll let us have the basic necessities of life, but you will be goddamgotohell if you would ever think that our lives, loves, families, children, FAITHS, citizenship, assets, freedom, and participation in society was as valuable as yours!

    Why, that would be just too much!

    As for hijacking the word marriage, you religious types have been doing that all along. It’s not really over who owns the Word. You don’t own civil marriage, and there are plenty of people of faith who disagree with you. I’m sorry for you that it pains you so to share your special religious word with the likes of us. But too bad.

    so don’t project your issues about hijacking it on to us,

    Thank you.

  • kevin, “marriage” is just a word that anyone can find in any English dictionary. Like many other words, it has multiple definitions. And, like many other words, its definitions have changed over time.

    “Nice” is another example:
    “The word nice, derived from Latin nescius meaning ‘ignorant’, began life in the fourteenth century as a term for ‘foolish’ or ‘silly’.”

    Personally, I prefer the modern definitions of both words.

  • If your “conscience” involves attacking others in the name of your religious belief such as those who use “refrain from participating” as a euphemism for discrimination, I want to violate it like Josh Duggar and his younger sisters. Such acts are neither moral nor worthy of any kind of protection.

  • I believe the Golden Rule means respecting other people’s personal boundaries, beliefs, belongings, bedrooms, bodies, and business, along with their rights, freedoms, privacy, and equality, as I would have others respect my own.

    Even if I opposed an LGBT couple’s marriage, the question of whether to sign their license (or sell them flowers, or prepare their cake, or cater their party, or rent them a home) would answer itself, since I would realize they are my rightful public customers, not my wrongful private business. As for morality, since they are my equals, and since their beliefs and values are their own, it would be immoral of me to judge their lives, or to presume to hold them to my own chosen moral principles.

    In other words, I see the so-called “religious freedom” issue as a matter of trespass, not of faith.

  • So you believe you have an excuse to treat gays badly and expect protection for such behavior as an expression of religious belief. Well, that’s just a load of garbage. You want an excuse to act maliciously. There is nothing moral or socially redeemable about such beliefs.

    You don’t like gays getting married under the civil law? Well tough luck. People like yourself couldn’t cough up a legitimate reason for banning it. In fact the efforts to ban it actually hastened gay marriage’s legal acceptance, making it a national level issue for the courts to deal with.

    “Since when do we legislatively protect someone’s behavior choices? ”

    When its none of your business.

    Religious freedom means nobody has to endure attacks or suffer in the name of your faith or any other. You think God wants you to treat gays badly, well then you have to take your chances with various laws which don’t confer such a right.

  • Where?

    You are trying to tell me that people who use their religious belief as an excuse to discriminate are decent? Oh I’m sorry, its people who “refuse to participate in the endurance of gays in their presence”.

    They are neither decent people, nor moral.

  • Running your own for-profit business is a privilege, not a right. That’s why you have to get a business license, which is a conditional authorization conferred in exchange for your agreement to adhere to all laws governing your business, including anti-discrimination laws.

    These laws are designed to protect the consumer, not the vendor. Note that there’s no such thing as a “customer license”. Customers are free to pick and choose the businesses they patronize.

    If you want to pick and choose your customers, your legal remedy is to convert your for-profit business into a non-profit, or form a co-op.

  • “Should we tolerate Pedophillia?” Good question Jim, why do we allow Catholic priests to molest and rape children without any justice being brought against them?

  • “[1] But do we have to tolerate Sexual Perversion ?? [2] Should we allow the State to mandate Perverts to control our Churches and schools? [3] Are we really born Homosexual and are we really born to be Bisexual? [4] Should we have no control over our Sexual Desires? [5] Should we tolerate Pedophilia? [6] In the future will we decide that we are born to be Rapists?”

    [1] Predatory and public sexual activities are already against the law.
    Private, adult, consensual sexual acts are none of your business, and if you think they are, then you’re the “pervert”.
    [2] See [1].
    [3] See [1].
    [4] See [1].
    [5] See [1].
    [6] See [1].
    You can stop [ ]panicking, [ ]raging, and/or [ ]self-exalting now, Jim. Enjoy the freedom of not being responsible for controlling others!

  • Making money to support my family is a human right and social justice. A for profit business is indeed a right, not a privilege. My body and my work do not belong to you or the state. We are not slaves, but free. Your statist position is immoral and inhumane.

  • Making enough money to support your family, though not yet a U.S. legal right, certainly is a “moral right and social justice” that I also support, The Blestou.

    But doing so by running your very own for-profit business is not a right, no matter how much you protest that simple legal fact. Of course, you already know that if you already run your own business.

    If you don’t want to follow business laws, then you can convert your business to a non-profit or co-op. Or you can just give up your business, and try to make enough money to support your family by working for someone who does abide by the laws.

    The idea that you should be able to violate both the laws and your rightful customers, who have as much right to their beliefs and choices as you do, is “immoral and inhumane”.

    And illegal.

    You’re not above the law, and you’re not above your equals.

    P.S. — You might want to consider the propriety of dwelling on the sex lives of others, The Blestou.

  • Here’s the thing, refusing to provide services that I do not provide is not against the law. Outright actual discrimination against homosexuals is not even illegal in many places. And yet, the power of an increasingly totalitarian state is forcing our submission and servitude nonetheless.

    You smugly refer to a “law” that is no such thing. Your bigotry and hatred for those not like you might hide behind your careful words for a time, but as you repeat them over and over, they wear thin and the corruption shows through.

    The majority of the people do not agree with you. History and nature do not agree with you. May the good lord allow you satisfaction in the comments section, for you will be forever unsatisfied in the real world.

  • Re The Blestou’s “those not like you”:
    Dontcha just hate it when people make up stories about strangers?
    They always attack the morality of people they don’t even know.
    They never see the immorality of making up lies about strangers.
    Dontcha just hate that, The Blest?

    “Outright actual discrimination against homosexuals is not even illegal in many places”
    Correct. What a shame, but give it time.

    “You smugly refer to a “law” that is no such thing.”
    Incorrect. And you just made up “smugly”, too. You don’t know me at all.

    “The majority of the people do not agree with you.”
    Wrong again. But what if they did disagree? Does majority mean right? Does subordinating strangers to your morality make you moral?

    “you might hide behind your careful words for a time, but as you repeat them over and over, they wear thin and the corruption shows through.”
    If only that worked for Republican Presidential candidates…

  • …”History and nature do not agree with you.”
    History had the Romans persecuting Christians. Didn’t make it right. Social morality matures, just like people.

    “May the good lord”
    Most good Christians disagree with your definition of “good”. (The word “merciful” comes to mind.)

    “you will be forever unsatisfied in the real world.”
    Is that a curse, or are you making up stuff about strangers again? (You can always ask me if you really want to know about my life.)

    I hope you learn to respect other people’s boundaries, as you would have others respect yours, because your written efforts to treat others with un-Christilike hostility, and to trespass onto their private personal and spiritual property, are wholly worthy of soul-searching.

    It’s all about how we treat each other, and the Golden rule applies.

  • “Social morality matures, just like people.” No it doesn’t. The social morality which is characteristic of the west was not the result of a slow “maturing” process but a specific turning point–and even so it still experiences lapses back to the natural default. Why doesn’t history show such “social maturing” in the rest of the world except to the extent that it has been transported there by the west?

  • I am a Christian who happens to hold a mater’s degree in Theology. The idea of marriage being exclusively one man & one woman is a relatively modern construct. In Biblical times, which covers several centuries, plural marriage was commonplace, and religiously sanctioned. Indeed, the patriarch Jacob, aka Israel, married two women, Leah and Rachel, who were his first cousins. (Genesis 29: 21-30)

    Later, Rachel and then Leah gave him their “handmaidens” (lady’s maids), who had been given to them by their father to serve them at their wedding, as lesser wives or concubines. Hebrew sources tell us that those two, Bilhah and Zilpah, were half-sisters of Leah and Rachel by their father Laban’s concubines; each also bore sons to Jacob (Gen 30:1-13), and they are buried in the Tomb of the Hebrew Matriarchs in Tiberias, Israel.

    So now we’re at four wives, all sisters and all Jacob’s first cousins. I’m not sure Biblical marriage is the ideal you’re looking for!

  • If people basking in their delusions of Christian superiority were to give the slightest bit of credibility to the notion of evidence, they would create two detailed side-by-side lists: 1) the suffering that homosexuals have inflicted on humanity through the centuries, and 2) the suffering that Christians have inflicted on humanity through the centuries.

    While the homo list would probably be just a blank sheet of paper, it’s a certainty that reams of paper would be required to print out the Christian list, plus the additions to it that occur daily. Thus, the obvious conclusion would be that society should do everything possible to discourage Christianity (and most other religions, especially Islam).

  • True, Shawnie5, the world is a crazy quilt of partially incompatible and wholly incompatible societies whose animosities are only implied by history’s overwhelming and brutally unwavering triumphs of sovereignty over humanity.

    At the same time, it’s important to remember America’s own still-maturing social history. We’ve survived and largely (emphasis) outgrown unspeakable acts of cruelty against our equals just because of our historically acceptable — but now utterly unacceptable — pejorative and punitive ideas about other people’s races, religions, sexes, spouses, ages, abilities, classes, and cultures.

    I care more about how people treat each other than about anything else, so I hope you understand my passionate remarks about people who actually defend their indefensible mistreatment of others, their invasion of others’ private lives, and their attempts to impose their own values, religious OR otherwise, on their equally rightful peers.


  • ” The social morality which is characteristic of the west was…a specific turning point… ”
    What was that turning point?

    ” …–and even so it still experiences lapses back to the natural default. ”
    What is the natural default?

    ” Why doesn’t history show such “social maturing” in the rest of the world except to the extent that it has been transported there by the west? ”
    An excellent and a deep question. I think it’s easy for me to see that the ‘West is Best’ probably because of the loving attitudes that are so prevalent.

    In other words, ” Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins……..1 Peter 4:8″, is the rule and not the exception.

  • Take it a step further and you’ll have your answer, Billy. Why are loving attitudes prevalent in the West? When did we first get the notion that “loving attitudes” were anything important on the societal level?

  • Why, Shawnie, the same place we God that slavery was ordained by God, that women are naturally inferior to men, the gay people deserve whatever misery heterosexual religious and not-so-heterosexual religious people sling at them, that witches and heretics are for burning, that black people are by nature inferior to white people, and on and on and on and on and on and on and on.

  • “the same place we got that slavery was ordained by God, that women are naturally inferior to men,” Those are part of humanity’s natural default settings, which pre-date Christianity by millenia and continue today in places more or less untouched by western values. Curious that only the west could come up with any good reasons for repudiating them — and those reasons were decidedly NOT secular in nature.

    And as far as homosexual “misery” goes, if not bothering to institutionalize a non-issue like SSM is what constitutes misery to you, then that didn’t come from Christianity either. Sorry, Charlie.

  • You just wanted marriage equality banned and support legalized discrimination against gays. You claim that comes entirely from following Christian precepts.

    Christians acting in moral, charitable and loving ways are the exception, not the rule. People so rare they are celebrated. Christians acting maliciously in the name of their faith are more common than dirt.

  • It’s discrimination and against the Gospel of Jesus Christ who taught us to love God and love all our neighbors as we love ourselves. Jesus would bake two cakes.

  • Who said a commited, monogamous relationship between two people of the same gender is perversion? They are not perverts. They are children of God. Your words are harsh, unfounded and not in the Spirit of God’s grace and mercy.