An Associated Press-GfK poll conducted between July 9 and July 13 — just weeks after gay marriage was nationally legalized — yielded at least two surprising results: America's support for same-sex nuptials is down slightly from earlier this year, and support for religious exemptions for wedding-related businesses has increased since April 2015.
Forty-four percent favored same-sex marriage in their state in January, with that proportion increasing to 48 percent in April, but it was down to just 42 percent in the most recent research wave; 40 percent now oppose same-sex marriage.
As for the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized same-sex nuptials across the nation, 39 percent of respondents approved, with 41 percent expressing disagreement, the Associated Press reported.
Gay rights supporters Brian Sprague (L) and Charlie Ferrusi, from Albany, New York, hold a Human Rights flag outside U.S. Supreme Court building on June 26, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)
The dynamic is now one in which citizens are "sharply divided," according to the outlet.
And views on marriage aren't the only surprise in the poll, as 59 percent now support allowing wedding-related businesses who hold religious conflicts with gay marriage to refuse matrimonial services to couples, which is an increase from 52 percent earlier this year.
Forty-nine percent also favor exemptions for religious local officials who do not wish to issue marriage licenses, though 47 percent believe that these individuals should be mandated to provide licenses. In April, 48 percent wanted an exemption, though 49 percent disagreed.
Additionally, 56 percent of the public said that government protection of religious liberties should trump gay rights, if and when there's a conflict between the two, while 39 percent instead opted in favor of gay rights. These latter proportions are almost identical to April proportions, which stood at 56 percent and 40 percent, respectively.
The poll was conducted after Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweetcakes by Melissa, an Oregon bakery, were fined $135,000 in “compensatory damages for emotional, mental and physical suffering,” after they declined to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.
Read more about these results here.