News (USA)

Poll: Majority of Americans side with LGBT rights over ‘religious freedom’

Poll: Majority of Americans side with LGBT rights over ‘religious freedom’
Chaunce O'Connor rallies outside a Miami courthouse on July 2 during a hearing on Florida's same-sex marriage ban.
  J Pat Carter, AP

A new national poll finds that a majority of Americans believe businesses should not be allowed to refuse services based on their religious beliefs, suggesting a split over the issue between voters and some of the politicians who represent them.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll released Thursday also found that 52 percent of Americans support allowing same-sex couples to marry, far more than the 32 percent who oppose it.

The poll found solid opposition to allowing businesses to refuse services or refuse to hire people or groups based on religious beliefs.

Fifty-four percent said it was wrong for businesses to refuse services, while 28 percent said they should have that right. And 55 percent said businesses should not have the right to refuse to hire certain people or groups based on the employer’s religious beliefs, while 27 percent said businesses should have the right.

The Reuters-Ipsos poll found divisions among Americans on where same-sex marriage laws should be made.

The largest grouping, 34 percent, believes same-sex marriage laws should be made by the U.S. Supreme Court declaring a nationwide constitutional right.

Another 22 percent said same-sex marriage laws should be made at the state level by voter referendum. Eleven percent said laws should be made by state legislators and 8 percent would leave it up to Congress. The poll found 24 percent did not know how best to handle it.

The poll said 55 percent want to see all states – even those that do not permit same-sex marriages – recognize such unions from states where same-sex marriage is legal.

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The poll, conducted April 6 to 8, follows a week of hotly contested debates over religious freedom bills in Indiana and Arkansas that critics said would allow individuals and business to use a defense in discriminating against LGBT individuals.

Both bills were eventually revised to close those loopholes.

More: Reuters
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