Survey: Slight decrease in gay marriage support, uptick in religious freedom support in U.S.

gay marriage Credit: Daniel Jedzura/Shutterstock

A survey of more than 22,000 Americans found that support for homosexual marriage declined slightly and support for businesses who refuse to violate their religious beliefs went up in 2023 when compared with 2022.

The American Values Atlas survey, which is produced by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), is released annually. The report details trends on these topics from 2014 until the most recent 2023 survey. 

Homosexual marriage support declines

The survey found that 67% of Americans supported homosexual marriage in 2023, which is a two-point decrease from the 69% that recorded their support in 2022. This is the first time the annual survey found a downtick in support since 2015.

Support for homosexual marriage also declined among self-identified Catholic respondents, but a majority still supported it. The decline was significantly larger among Hispanic Catholics, who dropped from 75% support to 68% support, than white Catholics, who dropped from 75% support to 73% support.

The groups least likely to support homosexual marriage were Mormons, Hispanic Protestants, white evangelical Protestants, Muslims, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. These were the only groups in which fewer than half of the respondents supported homosexual marriage.

Young people are more likely to support homosexual marriage than the average American, but support from youth has been declining since 2018. The survey found that 71% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 support homosexual marriage — a significant eight-point decline from the 79% of young people who said the same in 2018.

The majority of Americans in nearly every state still support homosexual marriage, with the exceptions being Arkansas, where only 49% support it, and Mississippi, where exactly 50% support it. 

Support for religious freedom is rising

Most Americans — 60% — still opposed a small business owner’s right to refuse service to homosexuals when it would violate his or her religious beliefs. But this is a five-point decline from 2022 when 65% said the same. 

This decline puts the public closer to 2015 numbers, when 59% of Americans opposed these rights.

Young people are more likely to oppose these religious rights, with 64% of respondents aged 18–29 in opposition. However, this is six points lower than the 70% of young people who were in opposition to these rights in 2022. 

The report also found that 76% of Americans support nondiscrimination laws for homosexual and transgender people, but this too is four points lower than the 80% who said the same in 2022. 

For Americans aged 18–29, support for nondiscrimination protections peaked in 2020 with 83% in support but fell significantly in 2023 to 75% in support.

Partisan differences

The survey showed vast differences on these topics between the two major political parties. The chief executive officer of PRRI, Melissa Deckman, attributed these shifts to partisan division.

“Our survey shows that support for LGBTQ rights has dipped slightly from 2022 to 2023, although the vast majority of Americans continue to endorse anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans and the rights of same-sex couples to marry,” Deckman said in a statement. 

More in US

“The growing partisan divide on these issues show the effect of the continuous use of LGBTQ identity and LGBTQ rights as a wedge issue in our nation’s culture wars.”

About 82% of Democrats in the survey said they supported homosexual marriage, compared with 47% of Republicans. 

The distinction was also present in opposition to a business owner’s religious freedom — 82% for Democrats and 32% for Republicans — and support for homosexual and transgender nondiscrimination protections — 89% for Democrats and 59% for Republicans.

Our mission is the truth. Join us!

Your monthly donation will help our team continue reporting the truth, with fairness, integrity, and fidelity to Jesus Christ and his Church.