Americans’ support for LGBTQ rights is higher than ever

June 24, 2018 Man points at camara holding a banner that says The Libertarian party supporting equality rights gduring the LGBTQ Pride Parade in Chicago
June 24, 2018 Man points at camera holding a banner that says The Libertarian Party supporting equality rights during the LGBTQ Pride Parade in ChicagoPhoto: Shutterstock

Support for LGBTQ rights has never been higher among Americans although two groups that have “consistently lagged,” remain toward the back of the pack.

Republicans and white evangelical protestants trail behind other groups, but even those groups show majority support for nondiscrimination protections of some sort.

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Legislatures around the nation have taken up anti-LGBTQ bills with varying success. The measures have been pushed by the religious right and Republican politicians.

But the tried-and-true tactic of using the LGBTQ community as a whipping post is starting to lose its potency, with 65 percent of Republicans supporting laws that would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing. Overall, 79 percent of Americans support the update to civil rights laws.

About six in ten white evangelical Protestants (61%) and Jehovah’s Witnesses (59%) support nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people. Nearly all Unitarian Universalists (97%) and about nine in ten Buddhists (87%) and religiously unaffiliated Americans (87%) support civil rights.

But Republican and evangelical support come with a caveat. They also think that businesses should be able to refuse service to LGBTQ people if the owners cite their religious beliefs as the motivation.

Nearly nine in ten Democrats (85%) and two-thirds of independents (66%) oppose religiously based refusals to serve gay and lesbian people. About four in ten Republicans (44%) oppose such service refusals, compared to a majority (56%) who support them.

Majorities of almost every major religious group oppose religiously based service refusals, including 77 percent of Muslims and 76 percent of Jewish Americans. Less than half of Latter-Day Saints (44%) and white evangelical Protestants (38%) oppose religiously based service refusals.

Only 30% of Americans oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. Republicans are now divided over same-sex marriage (48% support, 50% oppose), while Democrats and independents express strong support. White evangelical Protestants (35%) and Jehovah’s Witnesses (22%) are the least likely to support same-sex marriage.

The data come from PPRI’s 2021 American Values Atlas project, a multi-year survey measuring Americans’ support for LGBTQ rights policies.

“This massive 50-state study brings into sharp focus the contradiction between increasing support for LGBTQ rights, including rights for transgender Americans, and the proliferation of laws seeking to restrict or abolish those rights over the last year,” PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones said.

“Support for nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans has never been higher and garners the support of all political parties and major religious groups.”

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