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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 15, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 11
Oops! - Southern Baptist poll finds majority support LGBT rights
Section One
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Oops! - Southern Baptist poll finds majority support LGBT rights

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A new poll by LifeWay, the polling arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, shows that a large majority of Americans support LGBT rights, including the right to marry.

Unlike the American Baptist Churches USA, represented locally by Seattle First Baptist, Mt. Zion, and University Baptist churches, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is a deeply conservative denomination whose president opposes LGBT rights. Last year the SBC even passed a formal resolution opposing 'the idea that Gay rights are the same as civil rights.'

Nevertheless, the LifeWay poll documents a belief among most Americans that LGBT rights are indeed civil rights. Among the findings of the poll are:

o 64% of those polled agreed 'it is inevitable that same-sex marriage will become legal throughout the United States';

o '80% of Americans disagree that employers should be allowed to refuse employment to someone based on their sexual preference';

o 58% of respondents agreed that 'like age, race, and gender, homosexuality is a civil rights issue';

o 27% agree and 67% disagree landlords should be allowed to refuse to rent housing to same-sex couples if same-sex marriage is made legal in their state;

o A majority of Americans believe rental halls and landlords should not be allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples; and

o 'More Americans do not believe homosexual behavior is a sin than those who believe it is a sin.'

A GENERATIONAL DIVIDE
Significantly, the poll finds that women, young people, and people with college degrees are more likely to favor LGBT rights. Sixty-one percent of women, 65% of people with a college degree, and 65% or people aged 18-29 agreed that Gay rights are a civil rights issue similar to race, age, and gender.

The survey also reveals significant geographical differences in how Americans respond to LGBT rights. Seventy-two percent of Westerners say that marriage equality is inevitable, compared to 61% of Southerners and only 57% of Midwesterners.

Of those calling themselves 'born-again, evangelical, or fundamentalist Christian,' only 50% agree that equal marriage rights are inevitable, while 38% disagree.

The survey also asked if religious officials and people providing public accommodations or services should be allowed to refuse to serve same-sex couples. According to the findings:

o 63% agree and 27% disagree that pastors should be allowed to refuse to officiate at same-sex weddings if they are made legal in their state;

o 58% agree and 33% disagree that photographers should be allowed to refuse to work at same-sex weddings if they are made legal in their state; and

o 40% agree and 52% disagree that rental halls should be allowed to refuse to rent out their facilities for same-sex weddings if they are made legal in their state.

LifeWay did not report on the sample size, the margin of error, or the methodology of the poll, but the findings seem to agree at least in general with a new meta-analysis of polling data released by Freedom to Marry. According to that study, opposition to marriage equality is concentrated among white evangelicals, older people, and people without a college degree.

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