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Survey: 14-Point Drop in Percentage of Americans Believing Business Owners Must Provide Services To Same-Sex Couples

A new survey published by the Newseum Institute finds a 14-point drop since 2013 in the percentage of Americans who believe business owners should be required to provide services to same-sex couples, even when business owners say it is against their religion to do so.

In 2013, 52 percent of survey respondents agreed that business owners should be required to provide services to same-sex couples even if in violation of their faith. In 2015, however, only 38 percent agree with that statement.

When age is a factor, 61 percent of millennials (18-29) believe businesses should be required to provide service to same-sex couples even if the owners say it is against their religious beliefs, while 45 percent of 30-49 year-olds and 37 percent of those 50 and older believe the same.

As might be expected, 57 percent of Democrats agree that business owners should be required to serve same-sex couples even if it violates their faith beliefs, while only 22 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of Independents believe the same.

Religiously unaffiliated Americans (54 percent) are more likely to be proponents of this requirement for business owners, while 42 percent of those identifying as Catholics and 22 percent of Protestants support the same.

Women (41 percent) were found to be more in agreement with a requirement for business owners than men (34 percent).

Newseum Institute also finds that 33 percent of Americans do not know which rights are guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

When asked to name the five freedoms included in the First Amendment, the survey found that 57 percent of respondents named “freedom of speech,” while only 19 percent named “freedom of religion” and only 10 percent named “freedom of the press.” In addition, only 10 percent of participants named “freedom to assemble,” and only 2 percent named the right to “petition.”

“Over the past year, those naming freedom of speech decreased from 68 to 57 percent, freedom of religion decreased from 29 to 19 percent, and freedom of the press declined from 14 to 10 percent,” states the Newseum.

Furthermore, the institute found a significant decrease in the percentage of Americans who believe the First Amendment goes too far in guaranteeing rights:

Last year, 38% stated that the First Amendment goes too far and 57% said it does not go too far. In the current survey, only 19% say the First Amendment goes too far while 75% say it does not. In the 2013 survey we saw a spike in the percentage who said the First Amendment goes too far, likely a response to the perceived safety threat from the Boston Marathon bombings. As that event is now in the more distant past, public support for the First Amendment has returned to more “normal” levels. Interestingly, we noted a similar dive in public opinion after the 2001 terrorist attacks, as seen in the chart below.

When age is a factor, the survey found 9 percent of those under 30 years old believe the First Amendment goes too far, with gradual increases as the age group increases: 14 percent of 30-49 year olds believe it goes too far; 18 percent of 50-64 year olds; and 22 percent of seniors.

The Newseum’s questionnaire was developed by Dr. Ken Dautrich, president of The Stats Group and Gene Policinski, chief operating officer of the Newseum Institute. It was administered to a national sample of 1,002 American adults by telephone and was conducted from May 14 through 23, 2015.

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