Supreme Court same-sex wedding cake case reflects split among American public

Source: Pew Research Center

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on a question that divided the American people in a 2016 Pew Research Center survey: whether businesses that provide wedding services should be required to cater to same-sex couples or whether they should be able to refuse based on religious objections to homosexuality.

The case the justices will take up involves a Colorado bakery owner who argues that he should not be forced to make cakes for same-sex weddings because such unions conflict with his religious beliefs. A same-sex couple attempted to order a cake from the owner’s shop, and, after the owner declined, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled he was in violation of a state law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The question at the center of the case echoes one the Center posed to Americans last year. In that survey, U.S. adults were evenly divided, with roughly half (49%) saying businesses should be required to provide wedding services to same-sex couples, and a nearly identical share (48%) saying that they should be able to refuse to provide services due to religious objections.

There were sharp differences based on respondents’ religious affiliation and political party. A large majority of white evangelical Protestants (77%) said businesses should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples, while most religiously unaffiliated Americans (65%) and Jews (64%) took the opposite position. In addition, most Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party (71%) said refusal of service based on religious objections is acceptable, while two-thirds of Democrats (67%) disagreed, saying instead that wedding-related businesses should be required to serve same-sex couples just as they would any other couple.

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