April 2024 Church & State Magazine - April 2024

Support for LGBTQ+ rights in U.S. slips, public opinion poll shows


A new public opinion poll finds support for LGBTQ+ rights declining instead of increasing, and a relentless drumbeat of Christian Nationalist propaganda may be responsible.

The findings come from the 2023 American Values Survey conducted by Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). The group found that overall support for LGBTQ+ rights among Americans remains high but noted erosion in a few demographic groups, including, surprisingly, young people.

The PRRI survey, released March 12, found:

  • Most Americans, 76%, say they support policies that protect LGBTQ+ Americans from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation. That figure was 80% in 2022. Support for these policies remained steady among Democrats but dropped seven points among Republicans; support for these policies dropped among many religious groups as well and among young adults. In 2020, 83% of Americans aged 18-29 supported nondiscrimination laws to protect LGBTQ+ people. That figure has declined to 75%.
  • A majority of Americans (60%) oppose allowing small businesses to refuse to serve LGBTQ+ customers on the basis of the business owner’s religious beliefs. But that figure was 65% in 2022.
  • Support for marriage equality now stands at 67%, a loss of two points since 2022. The PRRI survey found that among young adults, support for marriage equality dipped from 74% in 2022 to 71% in 2023. (It reached a high of 79% in 2018.)

Melissa Deckman, CEO of PRRI, told NBC News that a relentless barrage of anti-LGBTQ+ messages from ultraconservative sources may be to blame for the drop in support.

LGBTQ+ rights: Support eroding? (Getty Images)

“There’s been more of an emphasis on this idea that LGBTQ rights have gone too far in America,” Deckman said. “They’re hearing that in churches that are conservative, they’re seeing on social media that’s conservative, on far-right news sources that are conservative. And that message is resonating.”

The report also finds that the more a person identifies with Christian Nationalism, the more likely they are to reject LGBTQ+ rights. Among adherents of Christian Nationalism, a majority of 52% oppose nondiscrimination laws, and only 22% of them support marriage equality.  The report puts it starkly: “Across all 50 states, scatter plots show a clear pattern: support for Christian nationalism is negatively correlated with support for three policies discussed in this report.”

In addition, a new report from the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) that also was released last month shows not only how Christian Nationalism is linked to attacks on LGBTQ+ rights, but also to restrictions on reproductive freedom, the freedom of ideas, religious freedom (especially for religious minorities), the freedom to travel, freedom of speech, and even the right to vote. The report, “Freedom Under Fire: The Far Right’s Battle to Control America,” cites AU’s research into the Shadow Network of organizations and political powerbrokers advancing this agenda. (To read the report, visit: www.mapresearch.org/2024-freedom-under-fire-report.)

The drop in support for LGBTQ+ rights coincides with dangerous anti-LGBTQ+ policies in several states. This ongoing assault is endangering lives. A recent analysis by The Washington Post found that hate crimes in schools have spiked, especially in states that have passed laws targeting the rights of LGBTQ+ students.

“The Post analysis found that the number of anti-LGBTQ+ school hate crimes serious enough to be reported to local police more than doubled nationwide between 2015-2019 and 2021-2022,” the newspaper reported. “The rise is steeper in the 28 states that have passed laws curbing the rights of transgender students at school and restricting how teachers can talk about issues of gender and sexuality.”

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