- The Washington Times - Monday, February 6, 2017

A new poll finds religious people support the legalization of gay marriage and oppose the right of religious small business owners to refuse service to gay couples if doing so would violate their beliefs.

The PRRI survey published on Friday finds few religious denominations are against allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Jewish people, for instance, support legal same-sex marriage 73 to 21 percent. White mainline Protestants and white Catholics both believe gay marital unions should be legal 63 to 28 percent.

Among Muslims, 44 percent support and 41 percent oppose gay marriage. Black Protestants are evenly split, 45 to 45 percent, on the issue.

The only denominations that oppose legalizing same-sex marriage are Hispanic Protestants, 46 to 41 percent; Mormons, 55 to 37 percent; white evangelical Protestants, 61 to 31 percent; and Jehovah’s Witnesses, 53 to 25 percent.

Americans as a whole support gay marriage — to which the Supreme Court ruled there is a constitutional right in 2015 — 58 to 32 percent.

The poll also asked people whether they “favor or oppose allowing a small business owner in your state to refuse to provide products or services to gay or lesbian people, if doing so violates their religious beliefs?”

The only religious group that answered affirmatively is white evangelical Protestants, 50 to 42 percent. Mormons oppose the idea 52 to 42 percent, the poll found.

Americans as a whole are against business refusals to gay couples on religious grounds 61 to 30 percent, the survey found. A PPRI survey last year said Americans opposed the denial of service 59 to 35 percent.

The PPRI survey comes as Americans try to find a middle ground between the rights of those who subscribe to traditional sexual morals and the rights of gay people.

Several states are grappling with whether to allow religious wedding vendors — such as florists, bakers and photographers — the freedom to live by their faith by refusing to cater same-sex wedding ceremonies.

And President Trump has considered rolling back an anti-discrimination provision that forces religious organizations that contract with the federal government, such as Catholic charities, to endorse the LGBT movement’s view of sexuality.

Other polls suggest how the question is worded makes a big difference in whether people support such religious exemptions.

A 2015 Associated Press-GfK poll, for instance, found Americans support the freedom to dissent from servicing same-sex weddings 57 to 39 percent.

And a Family Research Council poll also in 2015 asked respondents whether the government “should leave people free to follow their beliefs about marriage as they live their daily lives at work and in the way they run their businesses.” Eighty-one percent said yes.

The PRRI survey drew from a dataset of 40,509 interviews conducted throughout 2016 as a part of its American Values Atlas.

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