News (USA)

Most Americans don’t agree with Supreme Court’s discrimination ruling

Two women exchanging rings at a wedding
Photo: Shutterstock

A new poll shows that a majority of registered voters in America oppose allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ+ customers who are having same-sex weddings.

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis – where the Court ruled that some small businesses have a free speech right to refuse service based on their personal beliefs – the progressive think tank Data for Progress asked people in a poll whether they support such exemptions to anti-discrimination law.

The plaintiff, Christian web designer Lorie Smith, sued the state of Colorado because of the state’s anti-discrimination law, saying that her free speech was being stifled because she wanted to get into the wedding website business without serving LGBTQ+ customers because she “believes that God is calling her to promote and celebrate His design for marriage… between one man and one woman only.”

The Court said that Colorado’s LGBTQ+-inclusive anti-discrimination law can’t be enforced against her for refusing to make websites for same-sex couples even if she’s making similar websites for opposite-sex couples.

But Americans largely disagree with the decision. 65% of people said that a business should not be allowed to turn away clients based on their race, religion, disability, or sexual orientation, even if the business owner claims serving diverse people is against their personal beliefs.

When asked about specific situations, over half of respondents still said that they are against discrimination. Data for Progress asked about whether a business should be allowed to refuse service if their services will be used for a same-sex wedding, and only 42% of registered voters agreed while 52% disagreed.

The numbers got better for other situations that might be against a business owner’s religious beliefs, including interfaith weddings (29% agreed that businesses could refuse service and 62% disagreed), interracial weddings (26% agreed and 67% disagreed), and baby showers where the baby’s parents aren’t married (24% agreed and 68% disagreed).

When it comes to same-sex weddings, it was mostly Republicans who agreed that business owners could refuse service. 64% said that they should be allowed to refuse service, compared to 19% of Democrats. Less than a majority of Republicans, though, said that business owners should be allowed to refuse service in the other hypothetical situations.

“303 Creative was a purely hypothetical case,” said Data for Progress’s Rob Todaro. “When voters are given similar hypotheticals, they consistently land on the side of nondiscrimination, rejecting the idea that business owners should be able to refuse services to a member of a protected class based on personal beliefs.” 

“While the precedent set by this decision is alarmingly gray, the harms of discrimination are abundantly clear. LGBTQ+ people deserve full and equal access to public accommodations without fear of being treated differently for who they are or who they love.”

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