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Half of Conservative Christians Now Believe Same-Sex Marriage Is Inevitable

LifeWay also finds majority of all Americans see same-sex marriage as a civil right–but still support right of pastors to refuse to officiate.

Update (March 18): Last week, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman became the country's first Republican senator to formally announce his support for gay marriage.

Portman, a Christian whose college-aged son is gay, changed his former position on same-sex marriage and challenged his party's stance, the Religion News Service reported. Portman said, "The overriding message of love and compassion that I take from the Bible, and certainly the Golden Rule, and the fact that I believe we are all created by our maker, that has all influenced me in terms of my change on this issue."

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, also spoke out in favor of same-sex marriage for the first time in a video posted online Monday.

In the Human Rights Campaign clip, Clinton said she believes America must uphold and protect the dignity of all its citizens, including lesbians and gays. "I support marriage for lesbian and gay couples," she said. "I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law."

The recent announcements from these two politicians, one right and one left, come days after new research revealed higher support for same-sex marriage.

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A new report from LifeWay Research indicates that nearly six in 10 American adults believe that same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue like age, race, and gender–and nearly two-thirds believe same-sex marriage inevitably will become legal in the United States.

But the majority of respondents also said they support religious rights, including 63 percent supporting the right of pastors to refuse to officiate same-sex weddings.

Among respondents describing themselves as "born-again, evangelical, or fundamentalist" Christians, however, the percentages differed slightly: 50 percent said the legalization of same-sex marriage is inevitable (while 38 percent disagree). In addition, such Christians were more likely to agree when asked whether "pastors (74%), photographers (72%), and rental halls (57%) should be able to refuse same-sex involvement."

According to LifeWay Research president Ed Stetzer, most Americans support the right of "'individuals such as clergy or photographers to deny services for same-sex marriage. ... However, the level of agreement changes with scenarios that could be interpreted as more basic rights such as housing and employment.'"

Here's the breakdown for Americans in general:

63 percent agree and 27 percent disagree that pastors should be allowed to refuse to officiate same-sex weddings if they are made legal in their state;

58 percent agree and 33 percent disagree that photographers should be allowed to refuse to work same-sex weddings if they are made legal in their state;

40 percent agree and 52 percent disagree that rental halls should be allowed to refuse to rent out their facilities for same-sex weddings if they are made legal in their state;

27 percent agree and 67 percent disagree landlords should be allowed to refuse to rent housing to same-sex couples if same-sex marriage is made legal in their state;

14 percent agree and 82 percent disagree employers should be allowed to refuse employment to someone based on their sexual preference.

By comparison, 39 percent of conservative Christians agree landlords should be able to refuse same-sex involvement, and 19 percent say the same for employers.

CT previously has reported on same-sex marriage, noting in December the Supreme Court's decision to rule on the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 and Defense of Marriage Act. In 2009, CT weighed in with an editorial saying the debate over same-sex marriage "shouldn't drive [Christians] to outrage or panic," and reported in 2011 and 2012 on the shifting 'marriage battleground' and political opinion among evangelicals.

Related Topics:Religious Freedom
Posted:March 12, 2013 at 11:25AM
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