Most Americans Oppose Discriminating Against LGBTQ People Because of Religion

Demonstrators hold a rainbow flag outside of the White House during the Equality March for Unity & Pride. Photo: AFP/AFP/Getty Images

With the Trump administration’s attitude toward the LGBTQ community passive at best and actively antagonistic at worst, a new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute suggests that the majority of Americans disagree with that aspect of the president’s agenda. According to PRRI, almost two-thirds of Americans oppose allowing business owners to refuse service to LGBTQ individuals on the pretext of their religious beliefs.

In fact, of those surveyed, the only religious group who would support a so-called “religious liberty” bill was white evangelical Protestants — black Protestants, Catholics, and unaffiliated Christians all overwhelmingly opposed it.

There’s also broad support among all Americans for laws that protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and public housing, and the breakdown by political party holds pretty steady: 60 percent of Republicans surveyed think such laws should be in place, as well as 72 percent of Independents and 77 percent of Democrats.

But when it comes to laws that force transgender people to use the bathroom that matches their birth sex, there’s a deep partisan divide. Most Americans (53 percent) are against such “bathroom bills,” but while 65 percent of Democrats oppose them, 59 percent of Republicans favor them. (Religious groups surveyed were split on the issue.)

Interestingly, the survey results seem to coincide more or less with how things are shaking out in the political sphere. Although the president signed a religious liberty order in May, it was more of a symbolic concession to his Christian base, and far less sweeping than a draft order circulated months earlier. The Trump administration also kept in place a 2014 order that banned LGBTQ workplace discrimination, but it rescinded Obama-era guidelines protecting trans students, and last week Trump himself tweeted that trans soldiers would be barred from the military. All of which suggests that, although he’s indebted to the Christian right, Trump might move more cautiously when it comes to chipping away at LGBTQ rights we’ve come to depend on.

Most Americans Opposed to ‘Religious Liberty,’ Survey Says