According to a new Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) survey, the majority of Americans oppose allowing businesses to refuse service to LGBTQ people in the name of religion, and more Americans are welcoming of marriage equality and nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.
The poll, released this month, is based on 2017 data and highlights how the Religious Right is losing the culture war on LGBTQ rights. Since marriage equality became the law of the land in 2015, nothing the Religious Right claimed would happen occurred: nobody forced pastors to perform same-sex weddings, no religious leaders were punished for delivering anti-LGBTQ sermons, Western civilization did not collapse, etc.
One thing that has happened is that the members of our major religious groups now support marriage equality. The PRRI survey noted those groups supportive included 67 percent of white mainline Protestants; 66 percent of white Catholics; 65 percent of Hispanic Catholics; 66 percent of Orthodox Christians; 51 percent of Muslims; 80 percent of Buddhists; 77 percent of Jews and 75 percent Hindus.
While encouraging, the data shows that we still have some work to do. Marriage equality may be a reality nationwide and we’ve seen a growing number of protections in place to stop LGBTQ discrimination, but there have also been obstacles.
Unwilling to accept the advances in social equality, Religious Right extremists are asking state legislatures, Congress, and the courts for a trump card to undermine this progress. They want to use their religious beliefs as an excuse to deny health care, refuse to provide services and ignore laws protecting Americans from discrimination and abuse.
One example of this is the U.S. Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In this case, a Colorado Bakery wants businesses to be able to use religion as a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people. We are fighting back because public businesses should be open to all regardless of religion, sexual orientation, race and gender identity. That’s why we filed a brief in the case, urging the Supreme Court to rule that religion is no excuse to discriminate.
The majority of Americans agree with us that public businesses should be open to all. According to the survey, 60 percent of respondents agreed that a business owner shouldn’t refuse service to LGBTQ people on the basis of religion. Only two groups – white evangelical Protestants and Mormons – at 53 percent support using religion to deny service to people.
“Religiously based refusals of service to gay and lesbian people are relatively unpopular among the American public,” the survey observed.
This survey highlights the important strides the American public continues to make in accepting LGBTQ equality, but it reminds us that there’s more work to do.
Cases such as Masterpiece Cakeshop would bring harm to real people. That’s why we want your help in helping us amplify the voices of marginalized communities.
How would a bad decision in Masterpiece affect you? Have you ever been discriminated against because of someone else’s religion? Share your story with us, and we may post it on social media leading up to and after the Supreme Court decision, which we expect by the end of June.
Visit our Protect Thy Neighbor project to learn more about how we fight against discrimination in the name of religion.