The scenarios involved a photographer who refused to take photos of a couple. In variations of the scenario, the photographer was self employed or employed by a business, the couple were either same sex or interracial, and the grounds for denial of service were religious and non-religious.
“Legislatures and courts are debating whether businesses can deny services to same-sex couples for religious reasons. Yet, little is known about public views on this issue,” reads the study’s synopsis.
“In a national survey experiment, Americans (n = 2035) responded to an experimental vignette describing a gay or interracial couple refused service. Vignettes varied the reason for refusal (religion/nonreligious) and by business type (individual/corporation).”
“Results confirm greater support of service refusal by the self-employed than by corporations and to gay couples than to interracial couples. However, religious reasons for refusal to gay couples elicit no more support than do non-religious reasons. In the first national study to experimentally analyse views on service refusal to sexual minorities, we demonstrate that views vary by several factors but not by whether the refusal was for religious reasons.”
The survey yielded some surprising results: 68% supported a self-employed hypothetical photographer refusing service to a gay couple for reasons unrelated to religion (63% supported a religious refusal), while only 39% supported refusal by a photographer employed by a corporation for non-religious reasons (40% supported a refusal by a corporate photographer on religious grounds).
“Some people supported the businesses’ right to refuse, although they disapproved of the refusal. This view was common among those who support same-sex marriage, who often assumed that customers would boycott discriminatory businesses.”
The study concludes that Americans are no more likely to endorse the refusal of services to same-sex couples for religious reasons than for non-religious reasons. “The experimental patterns demonstrate that Americans are no more likely to endorse refusal to same-sex couples for explicitly religious reasons than for explicitly non-religious reasons.
“Moreover, support for refusal of services, especially by self-employed proprietors, extends beyond gay couples to interracial couples.” 59% of respondents supported denial of service to an interracial couple by a self-employed business owner for religion reasons, while 52% supported denial of service for non-religious reasons.
These patterns indicate that many Americans endorse discrimination against minority groups, including federally protected classes. American support for the denial of services to same-sex couples is driven not by religious-specific freedom but, instead, by general libertarianism and personal opposition to marriage rights.”
© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.