Fewer Americans across several demographics are reporting opposition to religious-based service refusals of gay and lesbian people, the Public Religion Research Institute found in a study published Tuesday.
PRRI found that between 2016 and 2019, several demographics have shifted in their beliefs about whether a small business owner in their state should be allowed to refuse products or services to gay or lesbian people if providing them would violate their religious beliefs.
Fewer Democrats, religiously unaffiliated, young people and American with postgraduate degrees were opposed to allowing religious-based refusals.
In 2016, 77% of Democrats were opposed to religious-based service refusals, while 70% were opposed in 2019. Among religiously unaffiliated, the percentage dropped from 74% to 64%; among young people between the ages of 18-29, 70% to 62%; among Americans with postgraduate degrees, 68% to 58%.
About 4 in 10 (39%) of Republicans opposed allowing small business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian people based on religious beliefs, while a majority (55%) supported such policy.
Between 2016 and 2019, Americans were also found to have become less likely to say they are strongly opposed to religiously based service refusals.
The survey is based on more than 53,000 bilingual telephone interviews (including cell phone interviews) conducted between January 2, 2019 and December 30, 2019 by professional interviewers. Results for questions on specific issues are based on a subset of more than 40,000 telephone interviews (including cell phone interviews) conducted between March 26, 2019 and December 29, 2019.
While support for policies like same-sex marriage has increased over the last decade, cases like that of Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who refused to bake a gay wedding cake because of personal beliefs, have directed national attention to religious liberty.
Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, was vindicated before the Supreme Court in 2018 after refusing to bake a gay wedding cake, but was sued again in April over his refusal to bake a trans-themed cake in 2017. (RELATED: Masterpiece Cakeshop Sued Again— This Time Over A Transgender Cake)