Same-sex marriage support has steadily grown in the United States in the past decade and especially since the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing it. Support among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, however, lags behind the rest of the country.
In a study released in early May of interviews of 40,000 Americans conducted in 2017, the Public Religion Research Institute shows 61 percent support same-sex marriage while 30 percent oppose it.
Though opposition to same-sex marriage among Mormons has dropped significantly in the past five years since the court decision, falling 68 to 53 percent, evangelical Protestants and Jehovah’s Witnesses join them in opposing same-sex marriage.
“Opposition to same-sex marriage is now confined to a few of the most conservative Christian religious traditions. Only about one-third (34%) of white evangelical Protestants support same-sex marriage today, while nearly six in ten (58%) are opposed, including 30 percent who are strongly opposed. And 40 percent of Mormons support same-sex marriage, compared to 53 percent who are opposed,” the report states. “Jehovah’s Witnesses, a racially-mixed religious group, are the exception. Thirteen percent support the policy, compared to 63 percent who oppose it. However, nearly one-quarter (24%) of Jehovah’s Witnesses express no opinion on the issue.
A slim majority of young Mormons, 52 percent, believe same-sex marriage should be legal while 32 percent of Mormon seniors agree.
In contrast, 87 percent of young Democrats and 63 percent of senior Democrats support same-sex marriage, and 59 percent of young Republicans are in support, compared to 28 percent of Republicans over 65 years of age.
Only Mormons and white Evangelicals support the refusal of service to same-sex couples based on religious beliefs, the report states.
“Most religious groups do not believe small business owners [can] refuse service to gay and lesbian people for religious reasons. Nearly nine in ten (86%) Unitarians and at least seven in ten Buddhists (73%), unaffiliated Americans (72%), and Jewish Americans (70%) oppose such a policy. And roughly two-thirds (65%) of black Protestants and about six in ten white mainline Protestants (60%), Hispanic Catholics (60%), white Catholics (59%), and Muslims (59%) also reject a policy allowing religiously based refusals to serve gay and lesbian people. Majorities of Orthodox Christians (57%), Hindus (56%), and Hispanic Protestants (55%) [oppose] the policy,” the study states. “Two major religious groups believe small business owners in their state [may] refuse service to gay or lesbian people on religious grounds — white evangelical Protestants and Mormons. Notably, they support this position at the same rate — 53%.”
A majority of nearly all religions support nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Sixty-nine percent of Mormons favor such protections. Half of Jehovah’s Witnesses agree, with 26 percent opposing.
“Mormons are unique among religious Americans in their outlook on same-sex marriage and nondiscrimination protections for [LGBT] people. Forty percent of Mormons favor allowing same-sex couples to marry. Yet, nearly 69 percent support laws to protect LGBT people from discrimination in housing, public accommodations, and employment. Among no other major religious group is the gap [between] these two issues larger,” the study states.
The last 10 years LDS Church leaders have been vocal in support of nondiscrimination policies in employment and housing. They have shied away from supporting nondiscrimination laws in public accommodations; yet, saying they support “religious freedoms.” They have filed briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting a business’ right to refuse service based on religious beliefs.
Utahns in general favor laws protecting LGBT people against discrimination, more than all other states but Massachusetts at 80 percent.