After the Supreme Court ruled last month that all states are required to recognize same-sex marriage, one might believe a majority of Americans would also support the idea that businesses shouldn’t be able to refuse service to customers based on their sexual orientation.
But according to an Associated Press-GfK poll, Americans are still heavily divided on that issue, and gay marriage in general. Current support for gay marriage is lower than it was earlier this year. The percentage of those in support of same-sex marriage is very close to those who denounce it, with 42% in favor of same-sex marriage compared to 40% who oppose it.
A majority, 51%, of Americans say that businesses who have religious objections to same-sex couples should still be required to serve them while 46% argue that those businesses shouldn’t.
The figures get even more dismal when you factor in businesses offering wedding preparations and services. For those businesses, 59% of Americans say they should have the right to decline serving gay couples while only 39% said they should be required to serve them.
As the AP pointed out, Americans believe businesses have to service customers regardless of sexual orientation, religion, race, gender and income, but when it comes to businesses that offer wedding-related assistance and who have religious beliefs that don’t support same-sex couples, many Americans believe they should be able to opt out.
In other words, many Americans believe religious beliefs trump gay rights. Only 39% say it’s more important for the government to protect gay rights while a staggering 56% believed government should protect religious beliefs first and foremost.
Yet polls showed that around 6 in 10 Americans support the legalization of same-sex couples well before June’s Supreme Court ruling.
The position is summed up by 69-year-old Claudette Girouard, a Michigan respondent who told the AP about gay marriage:
“I don’t see what the big hoopla is. If they’re happy, why not?
“[…] But businesses are kind of independent, so if they have a strong belief against it, there are enough other businesses out there for someone to use.”