No major religious groups -- and not even Republicans -- support anti-LGBT discrimination laws: poll
Mike Pence speaks to ABC News (screen grab)

Fewer Americans than ever before support legalized discrimination against LGBT people, according to a new poll.


No major religious groups, and not quite half of Republicans, agree that business owners should be permitted to refuse products or services to LGBT customers, according to a new poll by Public Religion Research Institute.

Vice President Mike Pence, as governor of Indiana, signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2015, which allowed business owners to refuse service to LGBT customers, but later agreed under intense public pressure to legislative changes watering down the law.

Religious right groups have insisted they need such laws to prevent them from being forced to violate their own religious beliefs by serving LGBT customers at bakeries and pizza parlors, among other examples, but fewer Americans agree.

The survey of 40,000 Americans found 61 percent opposed laws allowing LGBT discrimination on religious grounds, with only 30 percent saying they supported such legislation.

The results signaled a shift from the previous year, when PRRI found 59 percent of Americans opposed those laws and 35 percent backed them.

A majority of Republicans, at 55 percent, told PRRI in 2015 that they favored legalized LGBT discrimination, but that number had dropped to 49 percent -- less than half -- by this year.

Just half of white evangelical protestants supported anti-LGBT religious laws, compared with 42 percent of Mormons, 34 percent of Hispanic protestants and 25 percent of both black protestants and Jehovah's Witnesses.

The shift, which spread across faith groups and political organizations, signals a significant trend, according to researchers.

“At a time when Americans appear more divided than ever by partisanship and religion, there is increasing evidence that debates over LGBT rights have a short shelf life,” said Dan Cox, PRRI research director.