Majority of Registered Voters Oppose Refusing Service to LGBTQ People

Courtesy Gender Spectrum Collection.

Results of a new poll conducted by the D.C.-based Data for Progress released last week showed that 65 percent of voters believe businesses should not be allowed to turn away customers who are of a particular race, religion, disability, or sexual orientation because of the business owner’s personal beliefs.

The polling came after the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority ruled in favor of Lori Smith, the Colorado-based graphic artist who did not want to make wedding websites for same-sex couples despite Colorado’s nondiscrimination law barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. 

“The First Amendment envisions the United States as a rich and complex place where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority 6-3 decision along ideological lines in 303 Creative v. Elenis.

The liberal justices, however, called the majority’s finding of a free speech exemption to nondiscrimination rules “unprecedented,” warning it would blow a hole through these laws and pave the way for anti-LGBTQ discrimination by businesses.

The Data for Progress poll included a majority of voters across age, race/ethnicity, and gender, and a plurality of Republicans (48 percent.)

“303 Creative was a purely hypothetical case. 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,” said Rob Todaro, communications director at Data for Progress. “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.”

Similarly, 64 percent of voters say the right of individuals to be served by businesses, regardless of their race, religion, disability, or sexual orientation, is more important than the right of business owners to refuse service based on their conscience or religious beliefs (30 percent.)

The poll also asked voters about various hypothetical scenarios, and whether or not they think business owners should be able to refuse services for certain events based on their personal beliefs: 

  • Same-sex marriages: 42 percent agree, 52 percent disagree
  • Interfaith marriages: 29 percent agree, 62 percent disagree
  • Interracial marriages: 26 percent agree, 67 percent disagree
  • A baby shower for an unwed mother: 24 percent agree, 68 percent disagree

The belief that business owners should be able to refuse services in these scenarios is driven by Republican voters, with more than 1 in 3 agreeing in each case. 

Per the poll’s crosstabs, 64 percent of Republicans “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that businesses should be able to refuse services for same-sex marriages.

For Democrats, the number is 19 percent.

Around 40 percent of Republicans also say that businesses should be able to refuse services for interracial marriages and interfaith marriages.

For Democrats, that number is 15 percent.

Asked about baby showers for unwed mothers, 35 percent of Republicans says businesses should be able to refuse to provide services.

For Democrats, that number is 14 percent.

Data for Progress conducted a survey of 1,290 likely voters nationally using web panel respondents from June 30 to July 2, 2023. The sample was weighted to be representative of likely voters by age, gender, education, race, geography, and voting history. The survey was conducted in English. The margin of error is ±3 percentage points.


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