“Americans’ Views on Refusal of Services to Same-Sex and Interracial Couples: Evidence from a National Survey Experiment”
Wednesday, April 3, 2019; 1pm -2pm; Westville DSAC Great Hall A
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Abstract: Legislators and courts continue to debate whether a business should be able to deny services
to same-sex couples if such services go against the business owner’s religious beliefs. Proponents of
service refusal contend that requiring a business to provide services undermines religious freedom—and, for some businesses, artistic expression and freedom of speech. Opponents respond that service refusal to sexual minorities discriminates in the same way as service refusal to racial minorities did in the past. These debates are occurring at the same time that Americans’ views on gay rights have liberalized and same-sex marriage has been legalized. Yet we know little of what the public thinks about denial of services. Brian Powell reports patterns from the first national survey experiment that clarifies the extent to which the American public endorses of rejects businesses’ right to refuse service and the conditions that increase or decrease such support. The survey experiment answer four questions:
- Does support for service refusal apply only to religions reasons or extend to non-religion reasons?
- Does support for service refusal apply to self-employed individuals only or extend to corporations?
- Does support for service refusal extend to other groups, such as interracial couples?
- What explanations do Americans give for their support or opposition to service refusal and to what extent do these explanations correspond with those given in political and legal spheres?
Bio: Professor Powell’s research focuses on family, education, gender, and sexuality. With grants from the National Science Foundation, American Education Research Association, and the Spencer Foundation, he has examined how families confer advantages (or disadvantages) to their children and how family structure influences parental investments in children. He is especially interested in several increasingly visible groups of “atypical” family forms: families with older parents, bi/multiracial families, adoptive families, and gay/lesbian families.