Poll: Only 17% Believe Marriage Should Be a Constitutional Right

U.S. Supreme Court (public domain image via Wikimedia Commons)
U.S. Supreme Court (public domain image via Wikimedia Commons)

Yesterday, Reuters released a poll of 892 Americans that would seem to refute the polls that Maggie covered earlier in the week. However, I invite you to look closer, as this new poll doesn’t ask questions that accurately describe what the Indiana RFRA law actually does.  For example the poll asked respondents if they agreed or disagreed with the following statement:

Businesses should not be allowed to discriminate (by refusing services or a job) because of their religious beliefs:

  • 59.7% Agree
  • 24% Disagree
  • 16.3% Unsure

The phrasing used in this poll, by design I would imagine, distorts the RFRA law. The RFRA is not a license for discrimination, nor for the broad refusal of services, but merely a protection for those with concrete religious convictions from compulsory participation in same-sex marriages, for example. In the AP-GfK poll that Maggie covered, the question was asked in a different manner and yielded far different results:

In states where same-sex couples can be married legally, do you think that wedding-related businesses with religious objections should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples, or not?

  • 57% – Yes, they should be allowed to refuse service
  • 39% – No, they should not be allowed to refuse service

Are we to believe, as the Reuters poll suggests, that in the month between these polls, Americans have completely reversed their views on the issue? Doubtful.

The most remarkable set of data from the poll was buried deep in the results, but was covered by Politico:

The poll also found that more than half of respondents — 52 percent — said they support same-sex marriage, while 32 percent said they do not. Of those who believe that same-sex couples should be given the right to marry, 34 percent said they believe the U.S. Supreme Court should make marriage a constitutional right, rather than leaving the decision up to Congress or state governments.

Only 34 percent of the 52 percent of respondents who support same-sex marriage believe that the Supreme Court should step in on the decision. That comes to only 17 percent of those asked who would want the court to make marriage a constitutional right.

Frank Cannon is the president of American Principles in Action.