Poll: Gay-marriage right not absolute

American’s views on gay marriage are murky when it comes to distinguishing between services and legal rights, according to a new survey by LifeWay Research.

By Bob Allen

A majority of American adults view same-sex marriage as a civil-rights issue and nearly two-thirds believe it is inevitable that it will become legal throughout the United States, but opinions vary about what those rights should entail, according to a poll by LifeWay Research.

Findings reported March 12 by the research arm of the Southern Baptist Convention publisher LifeWay Christian Resources say six in 10 adults agree that pastors should be allowed to refuse to officiate at same-sex weddings if they are made legal in their state.

ed stetzerHowever, 27 percent say landlords should be able to refuse to rent to same-sex couples and 82 percent say employers should not be allowed to refuse hiring someone because of their sexual preference.

Between those extremes, 58 percent agree and 33 percent disagree that photographers should have the option of refusing to work same-sex weddings. Opinion reverses on the question of rental halls: 40 percent agree they should be allowed to refuse to rent out their facilities for same-sex weddings if they are made legal in their state, while 52 percent disagree.

“Clearly, Americans believe the prerogative exists for individuals such as clergy or photographers to deny services for same-sex marriage,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. “However, the level of agreement changes with scenarios that could be interpreted as more basic rights such as housing and employment.”

-- Based on reporting by Russ Rankin at LifeWay Research.