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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 18, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 38
Americans rethinking 'religious liberty' issue, new poll shows
Big majority now favors equal treatment for same-sex couples
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Americans rethinking 'religious liberty' issue, new poll shows
Big majority now favors equal treatment for same-sex couples

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Americans are rethinking the so-called 'religious liberty' to discriminate against same-sex couples, with a large majority now saying that 'equality under the law' supersedes personal religious beliefs.

According to a poll released September 15, nearly three-quarters of respondents said equal treatment is more important than personal religious beliefs, and two-thirds said that Kim Davis should be required to issue marriage licenses to Lesbian and Gay couples.

'In general, 74 percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll say that when a conflict arises, the need to treat everyone equally under the law is more important than someone's religious beliefs,' the poll reported.

'In the specific case at hand, 63 percent say [Kim] Davis, of Rowan County, Kentucky, should be required to issue marriage licenses [to same-sex couples] despite her religious objections.'

The poll was conducted September 7-10, as TV cameras and reporters crowded the Rowan County Courthouse, and involved interviews with 1,003 adults. It has a margin of error of ±3.5%.

The poll showed majority support for equal treatment extending across most demographics, including gender, age, race, education, income, and geographical region.

Equal treatment also prevailed across party, ideological, and denominational lines, except for respondents who identified as 'strong' conservatives and evangelical white Protestants. Even in those groups, only about half the respondents said religious liberty was more important.

On the specific question of Kim Davis's conduct, large majorities of evangelical white Protestants (61%) and 'strong' conservatives (66%) say Davis should not be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

That view also is more prevalent among Republicans, those with less education, and lower-income Americans, but it does not achieve a majority in those categories.

Among those who believe Davis should have issued marriage licenses, 72% agreed with the decision of U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning to send her to jail for contempt of court.

Support for sending Davis to jail peaks among liberals, those who are financially better off, college graduates, younger adults, Democrats, and those who are not religiously affiliated.

The new poll results contrast with findings of an AP/GfK poll taken shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court's June ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.

At that time, 56% of respondents said that the government should protect individual religious liberties, and only 39% said the government should ensure equal rights for Lesbians and Gays. Kim Davis had not yet become a national news item, but 49% said that, in general, local officials should not be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if they have religious objections, while 47% said they should be.

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Americans rethinking 'religious liberty' issue, new poll shows
Big majority now favors equal treatment for same-sex couples

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