New Poll: LGBT Issues a Civil Rights Matter, Marriage Equality 'Inevitable'

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com March 13 2013 5:21 PM ET

LifeWay Christian Resources, a research, publishing, and church-supplies group affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, has a new survey out indicating widespread support for LGBT rights among the U.S. population — a view that runs contrary to Southern Baptist doctrine.

The survey, released Tuesday, was not confined to Southern Baptists but sought a representative sample of the U.S. population, who disagreed with the church on several matters. Some 58% of respondents agreed that “like age, race, and gender, homosexuality is a civil rights issue.” Last year the denomination adopted a resolution taking the opposite stand, reading, “We deny that the effort to legalize ‘same-sex marriage’ qualifies as a civil rights issue since homosexuality does not qualify as a class meriting special protections, like race and gender.”

The survey also found that 82% of respondents thought it wrong to deny a person employment because of their sexual orientation, again running counter to the Southern Baptist view, with the denomination in 2010 having adopted a policy of “profound opposition” to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would outlaw such discrimination.

Sixty-four percent of those polled said same-sex marriage will inevitably become legal throughout the United States. Opinions varied on whether various wedding professionals should be able to deny services to gay couples. Sixty-seven percent thought clergy members should be allowed to refuse to perform same-sex weddings. (Incidentally, no state with marriage equality requires clergy members to perform marriages that go against their beliefs.) Fifty-eight percent thought photographers should have the right to deny their services, and 40% thought rental-hall operators should be able to refuse to host same-sex weddings. However, 67% thought it was wrong for landlords to refuse to rent housing to legally married same-sex couples.

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