Here is some good news: 76% of people who describe themselves as religious say that they support gay and lesbian rights, according to a recent poll. The poll, which was conducted by The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), illustrates that despite political tension, our country is actually not as divided as it may appear, at least when it comes to LBGTQ+ equality.
In the poll, researchers found that regardless of race, religion, age and partisan lines, more than three out of four Americans say that they strongly support laws that would protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. PRRI reports that this is the highest level of support for LGTBQ+ equality that they have ever recorded among Americans.
By comparison, in 2019, they recorded that 72% of Americans supported nondiscrimination laws for LGBTQ+ people, so that percentage has jumped by 4 points in just two year’s time. And in 2015, only 71% of Americans said that they would support such measures, so we can clearly see that acceptance and support for the LGBT community has an ongoing upward trajectory.
What can account for this increase? PRRI notes that people of color have increased their acceptance of LGBT causes, as have white Protestants. From 2015 to 2020, the number of Black Americans and white Protestants who support gay rights has increased by 10 and 9 percentage points respectively. Support from multiracial Americans, Black Protestants, Americans aged 30-49, independents, and Democrats all went up 5-10% from their 2015 numbers.
While the Roman Catholic church continues to refuse to bless same-sex unions, Catholics themselves reported a higher level of support for LGBTQ rights. In the PRRI survey, Hispanic Catholics’ support for the gay community increased from 75% to 81% since 2019, and the support of white Catholics increased from 74% to 77%.
Notably, “born-again” Christians or evangelical Christians are the least likely to support nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people. Just 62% of evangelical Christians say they would support such laws, compared to 81% of Christians who fall into a different faith category. However, Black evangelical Christians and evangelists of color still report a higher level of support for gay rights than white evangelical Christians. For example, 70% of Black evangelical Christians say they would support nondiscriminatory laws that protect the LGBTQ+ community, compared to just 62% of white evangelical Christians.
But, all told, less than one-fifth of Americans say that they would not support nondiscrimination laws that would protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Hopefully, that number will only continue to decrease as we progress into a more equitable and diverse society in which all Americans have equal rights and access to jobs, housing and social services.
And churches themselves are continuing to create more inclusive and welcoming spaces in their communities for LGBT+ people. Recently, the HopeGateWay community made the decision to break away from the United Methodist Church due to the church’s conversation positions on LGBTQ+ rights and what they said was discrimination against LGBTQ+ clergy and members.
Meanwhile, many religious groups such as the U.S. Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and most Jewish congregations have vociferously thrown their support behind The Equality Act. The Equality Act, which is currently in the Senate after having been passed in the House of Representatives, would strengthen protections for LGBTQ+ Americans and expand federal laws banning discrimination against these communities, which could impact faith-based organizations and their public programs such as their women’s shelters and soup kitchens. While many conservative Senators are pushing hard against this bill, many faith leaders have offered their support for The Equality Act.
“We should all be able to agree on this one thing — the law should treat all our children, God’s children, equally,” testified United Church of Christ minister Edith Guffey before the Senate, according to ABC News. “I also know how religion and faith were used to justify slavery, but that was wrong … I think we can learn from that.”