A new poll found that the majority of Americans (56 percent) are more likely to support protections for religious liberties over gay rights (40 percent) when the two come into conflict.
The AP-GfK polling results released this week also found that half of Americans believe that religious liberty is a very or extremely important issue to them personally (50 percent), with just one in four Americans saying the same of gay rights (26 percent).
The results — which were collected just before the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday for Obergefell v. Hodges, a landmark same-sex marriage case — also found that the public is deeply divided on how the nine justices should rule.
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While 50 percent said that they believe the Supreme Court should back gay marriage, 48 percent disagreed, though there was greater support for gay marriage legalization at the state level.
The public's stance was equally divided when assessing how the citizens believe government officials who oppose gay marriage should be treated under the law.
With a stark divide also characterizing that debate, 48 percent believe that there should be an exemption for faithful state and local officials who disagree with gay marriage when it comes to issuing marriage licenses, while 49 percent disagree.
But that divide isn't so stark when assessing where people stand on private, wedding-related businesses being given an exemption if they hold a religious objection to same-sex ceremonies. While 52 percent believe that it should be legal to refuse wedding services, 45 percent do not.
The Associated Press noted, though, that the 52 percent proportion was down from 57 percent the last time the question was asked in February.
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