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August 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Public opinion on whether business owners should be forced to participate in same-sex “weddings” has shifted significantly over the past year, a new survey reveals.

Forty six percent of Americans believe business owners such as bakers, florists, caterers, invitation designers, photographers, and venue hosts should be allowed to refuse service and 48 percent do not, according to a newly-released survey by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). In August 2017, just 41 percent sided with business owners and 53 percent favored coercion.

While white Americans’ views on the subject remain largely unchanged, support for conscience rights rose most sharply among black Americans, 45 percent of whom answered that businesses should be allowed to refuse service (up from 36 percent last year). Only a minority of Hispanics agree, but there too the share rose from 26 percent to 34 percent.

Republican support for the right to refuse rose by six points, while Democrat opinions remained relatively constant. More men (52 percent) than women (40 percent) support business owners, as well.

PRRI also found that while white Evangelicals are the most likely religious group to support the right to refuse (70 percent), the position only enjoys narrow support among both white and black mainline Protestants. American Catholics and religiously unaffiliated Americans are most likely to say businesses should be forced to promote same-sex unions, according to the survey, at 58 percent each.

At the same time, the poll found strong support for same-sex “marriage” itself, with 64 percent of Americans supporting it and only 28 percent opposed. Support for the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that forced every state to recognize same-sex “marriage,” Obergefell v. Hodges, is almost identical. 

Seventy-one percent of respondents said they support LGBT “nondiscrimination” laws in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

“The debate over same-sex marriage in the U.S. is quickly coming to an end,” PRRI Research Director Dan Cox said. While many Republican politicians seemingly concede to Democrats that same-sex “marriage” is a “settled” question, it’s unclear how much of recent years’ polling is really due to a paradigm shift in public opinion.

Past studies indicate that LGBT polling may be susceptible to the Bradley effect, a phenomenon in which respondents give pollsters what they think is the culturally-approved answer instead of their true opinion, and pro-family advocates argue that pro-LGBT activists still employ lawsuits and boycott campaigns because they continue to lack confidence that voters will adopt their policies through open debate.

Even so, the fact that the public’s pro-homosexual sympathies don’t translate to forcing religious Americans to comply is striking.

“While support for same-sex marriage and broad rights for LGBT people continue to increase, opinions are less settled in specific areas such as religiously based service refusals, especially in the context of wedding service providers,” PRRI CEO Robert Jones observed.

The reduced support for coerced participation in same-sex “weddings” may be the latest sign of backlash against gay activists’ overreach.

In March, the pro-homosexual GLAAD found that that the American public’s “acceptance of LGBTQ people” has actually begun to decrease, which social conservatives attribute to the LGBT lobby’s transition from “live and let live” arguments to infringing on the religious, conscience, and privacy rights of Americans who disagree with them.


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