The HRC’s Poll Says Most Religious Americans Oppose DOMA… Except For Mormons, Jews, And Muslims

The HRC conducted a national telephone survey of 1,030 adults and concluded that “The majority of Christian Americans oppose the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, favor protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people from discrimination, and support anti-bullying laws.” But the HRC didn’t even ask Mormons, Muslims, or many Jews about their feelings. And it would be a huge mistake to assume that supporting equal rights automatically equals supporting marriage equality, especially since marriage still has a strong religious rather than civil connotation. Let’s see what the poll tells us and keeps hidden.

In their press statement released today, the HRC said their poll “found a majority of Christians, including Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Orthodox and those who identify as other Christian, support LGBT equality,” which is odd because according to their poll results, none of the respondents even identified as Mormon. Also, considering that they had a very low number of Jews and no Muslims included in their pool, their poll hardly reflects the many religious communities that hold powerful sway over marriage equality politics.

Remember, how Mormons funded Prop 8 hand over fist? And now they’re not included in a poll about marriage equality? Looking at the footage of Senator Diaz’s anti-equality rally in the Bronx two weekends ago, one also saw lots of Orthodox Jews holding signs against gays. It’s important to realize that Christians only play a part in the larger marriage equality picture and the HRC’s current poll offers no insight into how much other faiths figure into political landscape and messaging in this issue.

But for now, let’s see how their poll results break down:

Overall, 68 percent of Christians (compared to 70 percent of overall respondents) strongly favor or somewhat favor protecting LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

But let’s see what the poll did reveal about Christians:

Seventy-four percent of Christians (76 percent overall) favor a law prohibiting bullying and harassment against LGBT students or the children of LGBT parents.

Eighty-six percent of Christians (85 percent overall) believe their faith leads them to the conclusion that the law should treat LGBT people equally.

Seventy percent of Christians (74 percent overall) agree that when religious leaders condemn LGBT people it does more harm than good.

A majority of Christians (52 percent) also oppose the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, according to a March 2011 HRC poll by GQRR.

The HRC did acknowledge that “on issues of marriage equality, some in the faith community remain opposed.” But even though Christians may oppose DOMA, it doesn’t mean that they’d like blanket marriage equality nationwide. Perhaps they would still prefer that each state make its own marriage laws or even leave it up to a vote, which would still give LGBTs the shaft.

Also, in order to convince more religious people to support marriage equality with their voices, dollars, and shoe leather, gay orgs will still need to figure out how to counter or influence of church networks who hold a lot of sway over congregational voting patterns, especially in rural areas.

It makes one wonder what messages and conversations could possibly persuade congregants more than the words of their long time religious leaders.

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  • Thrutch

    This poll cant be valid for any academic work. if It was for a state excluding california, new york, new jersey and florida. It might be valid. 1030 respondants for a population of 300million. Any quantitative sociologist would laugh and say get more data. With those numbers its accuracy rating could be off by more than 40%. Hell you cant even call that a baseline. HRC get off your lazy ass and do some real research instead of issuing media polls. Even plotting on random sampling, you couldnt get accurate numbers. My calculations estimate you would 8456 resondents for that poll to be accurate within +-10% which even excludes the qualitative aspect such a study would need. Was it token support, full fledged support or indifference. What a waste of money

  • HayDegha

    Maybe HRC figures that, if they keep repeating that “Christian people are for LGBT rights”, people will start to believe it–sort of like trying to mass hypnotize the religious community. What they are missing, however, is an opportunity to get a true data point of where we are in our progress towards obtaining equality.


    Virtually every poll is showing a growing shift towards acceptance of Gay rights and marriage……..Basically younger people have grown up having seen Gays all over the TVs and thru the internets…….The most solid core group of haters are older people………

    Which means for us to achieve equality we basically have to wait for them to fuck off and die (literally!)

  • Peter

    Most people (including Mormons) favor non discrimination against gays. This includes housing, employment, etc. However, when it comes to gay marriage, no state has ever approved it when put to a popular vote. The United States does not support gay marriage.

  • Jim Hlavac

    @Peter, in on, say 1859 I’d say the US didn’t support “free the slaves.” And in say, oh, 1939, no state would ever have passed a law allowing black equality, or ending of Jim Crow, or even mixed-race marriages. And in oh, say, 1909, the United States was opposed to woman voting. The nation might be against us now, but I have optimism for the future, an incredible amount of it. I’ve seen too much change in attitudes in my life. I’ve gone from bar raids to a legal marriage in Massachusetts and Iowa, etc. We’ll win this in the end — for we know we’re right; and they are beginning to get the sneaking suspicion that they are very wrong.

    Now we await 1) charismatic gay leader and 2) some outrageous statement condemning us to death in a very public way. And that will tip the scales in our favor finally.

  • Even Steven

    @Jim Hlavac: Good luck finding that “charismatic gay leader.”

  • Marvin

    This article, particularly in its headline, slanders American Jews. Anyone with a modicum of knowledge about American Jewry knows that it tends toward very progressive positions at least outside the “Palestinian question” (and even on that is more progressive than many might presuppose), and that Orthodox Jews–particularly the extreme Orthodox (haRedim)recently involved in protesting in defense of DOMA–constitute a TINY minority among American Jews. I’m a progressive Christian, not Jewish, but even I know at least that much about my Jewish sisters and brothers.

  • Marvin

    Correction. I should have written: The Orthodox constitute a small minority, and the haRedim a tiny minority, among American Jews.

  • Dan

    The title and intro sentence of this article are incorrect. It was Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, not HRC, that found most Christians oppose the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. The results were the same for Christians and non-Christians: 51% of both groups opposed the Act, although other reports have 52%. This is very much in line with the last five surveys, all showing majority support for same-sex marriage.

    The results for other pro-LGBT causes were even more encouraging, generally around 70-80% for nondiscrimination and anti-bullying laws. All this is highly consistent with other recent surveys. The only difference is that Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research looked specifically at Christians, in addition to the US population overall.

  • Dan

    Correction: the third sentence should read “The results were the same for Christians and the US population overall…”

  • Steve

    @Thrutch: A sample size of just above one thousand is respectable, as long as the methodology is sound. In this case, the methodology, questions, raw data, and analysis are all disclosed. If you have a specific criticism of the methodology or analysis, state it. Otherwise, the report passes review.

  • Steve

    @HayDegha: In fact, the statement “Christian people are for LGBT rights”, is gathering more support each year. As Christian denominations discuss and debate the issue, they gradually change their positions from raw condemnation, to questioning, to ministry, and finally to acceptance. As denominations debate the issue, the members of those denominations also change their understanding.

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