The number of Americans who believe the wedding industry should be able to refuse to serve gay couples has risen sharply since a year ago, according to a new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute.
The poll asked if “a business owner who provides wedding services should be allowed to refuse to provide those services to same-sex couples if it violates their religious beliefs.” Forty-six percent of Americans said that business owners should not have to provide wedding-related service to same-sex couples. Only slightly more, 48 percent, believe that owners are required to provide these services.
These numbers reflect a sharp change in just a year: In 2017, only 41 percent of Americans believed in refusing wedding services; 53 percent of Americans disagreed.
On same-sex marriage, though, America is much less divided, and support continues to steadily increase. The poll found that despite the contention of how gay marriage and religious freedom interact, 64 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage while only 28 percent oppose it. This support is also growing in every age bracket.
“The debate over same-sex marriage in the U.S. is quickly coming to an end,” said Dan Cox, Public Religion Research Institute research director, in a note accompanying the poll results. However, Cox notes that “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.”
The poll comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. The 7-2 ruling said the Colorado bakery did not have to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple because it would violate the owner’s right to religious freedom.
The case was hyper-focused to the specifics of the Masterpiece Cakeshop’s refusal to bake a wedding cake and the ways in which the lower court systems made their decisions, and it did not set any precedent that will shape America’s legal system. But the poll suggests that the Supreme Court decision could still shape how Americans view the rights of LGBTQ people.