Supermajority of Americans Believe that Fair and Equal Treatment Under the Law Trumps Individual Beliefs, Poll Finds

By Claire Caldwell • September 16, 2015 • 10:36 am

At the end of June, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled to make marriage legal for same-sex couples couples – and while a majority of Americans in all 50 states have embraced the decision, a small, fringe group have decided to push back.

But a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll showed that a 74% supermajority of Americans believe that when a conflict arises, no one should be able to use their religious beliefs to deny equal treatment under the law to others.

EqualityUndertheLawTwitterSo why all the hoopla?

In June 2015, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) introduced to Congress the so-called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) under the pretense of protecting the constitutional right to religious freedom. The bill would allow religious beliefs to be used as an excuse for:

  • Federal contractors to discriminate against an openly gay or transgender person in hiring and firing;
  • Companies to refuse FMLA leave for legally married same-sex couples; or
  • Federal employees to refuse to process a claim, benefit, or service to which same-sex couples are legally entitled – like issuing a marriage license.

The assumption being that, without FADA, religious freedom is under threat. But it’s not. As our own Erik Maulbetsch said in a post shortly after FADA’s introduction:

Bills with lofty titles rarely live up to their names. And the First Amendment Defense Act is no exception. It sounds like a celebration of the Constitution, but it’s nothing more than an attempt to legalize discrimination. Simply put, the First Amendment doesn’t need a “Defense Act” – it’s already the First Amendment.

While religious freedom is already securely protected under the law, 33 states lack full non-discrimination laws on the books for gay and transgender people. Freedom to Marry founder Evan Wolfson recently wrote:

A 70 percent supermajority of Americans — including 65 percent of Republicans — already supports nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people, but a staggeringly large number of them don’t realize that these protections are not already in place. We need to turn support into action, and action into law.

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll reinforces a long-term trend in public opinion: everyone deserves to be treated fairly and equally under the law and non-discrimination laws are important to ensuring this fair treatment.

Join a majority of Americans who believe in the fair and equal treatment of gay and transgender people under the law. Pledge your support.


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