According to a recent AP-GFK poll, support for gay marriage among U.S. citizens has dropped six percentage points since their last poll in April, with more Americans disapproving of the Supreme Court ruling making gay marriage the law of the land than those approving it.
Rather than galvanizing Americans into a unified body, the Obergefell decision has left U.S. citizens more divided than ever on the question of gay marriage, after the court itself showed a deep divide on the issue. In an unprecedented move, the four opposing justices each published an independent dissent, leaving a mine of legal reasoning contrary to the majority opinion.
The AP poll reveals that 42% of Americans favor legal gay marriage, while a similar poll carried out last April showed 48% in favor. Moreover, in conflicts between the interests of same-sex couples and those of religious liberty, a majority of Americans (56%) believe that government should rule in favor of religious freedom.
Specifically, more Americans believe that local officials with religious objections should be exempted from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, with 49% siding with the exemption and 47% saying they should be obliged to comply with the law. Moreover, an increasing number of U.S. citizens believe that wedding-related businesses with religious objections should be allowed to refuse service to gay and lesbian couples. Whereas in April 52% thought they should be accorded this option, the number was up to 59% in the recent poll.
“What the Supreme Court did is jeopardize our religious freedoms,” said Michael Boehm, 61, an industrial controls engineer from the Detroit area who describes himself as a conservative-leaning independent.
“You’re going to see a conflict between civil law and people who want to live their lives according to their faiths,” Boehm said.
The poll was conducted in the aftermath of the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision, in which the Supreme Court erasing state laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, effectively making same-sex marriage the law of the land.
In his strongly worded dissent from the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito warned that the ruling would have iniquitous effects on religious Americans and all those who believe in marriage as it has been understood in every culture until now. He said that the decision
will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.
Alito went on to say that people with a historical understanding of marriage will be considered to be extremists whose opinions have no place in polite society. “I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes,” he wrote, “but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.”
The AP poll suggests that for the moment, many Americans are still daring to express their disapproval both of the Supreme Court’s decision and the legalization of same-sex marriage itself.
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