The Associated Press surveyed 1,045 adults at the end of January with questions about the current controversies connected to same-sex marriage. They discovered that while Americans do (narrowly) support legal recognition for same-sex marriage, they do not believe the government should require businesses to have to support them with goods or services:
David Kenney, a self-employed Catholic from Novi, Michigan, said he's fine with same-sex marriage being legal. He's among the 57 percent of Americans who said wedding-related businesses — such as florists — should be allowed to refuse service if they have an objection rooted in their religion.
"Why make an issue out of one florist when there are probably thousands of florists?" asked Kenney, 59. "The gay community wants people to understand their position, but at the same time, they don't want to understand other people's religious convictions. It's a two-way street."
Kenney isn't alone. About a quarter of those who favor legal same-sex marriage also favor religious exemptions for those who issue marriage licenses, the poll finds, and a third say wedding-related businesses should be allowed to refuse service.
Geri Rice, who lives near San Francisco and works in law firm management, strongly favors gay marriage. She's torn about whether a public official with religious objections should be exempt from issuing a license but says she believes that business owners should be allowed to tell somebody no thanks.
"I don't like it," Rice said, "but I think they have the right."
I'm guessing that those who support gay marriage recognition but would also allow government officials to opt out of granting marriage licenses to gay couples are assuming that there would be other officials to step in to handle it or an alternative way of legally certifying those marriages.
View the poll results (which also cover opinions on abortion) here (pdf).