UPDATE (6/4/18): Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the baker, effectively giving him permission to discriminate against same-sex couples on religious grounds. The ruling was very narrow and specific to his case and cannot be applied to other cases. There is still an open question about whether discrimination on religious (or artistic) grounds is acceptable.
You may have heard the news that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule any day now about the case of the baker in Colorado who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple because of his religious and artistic beliefs. This case is a BIG DEAL because it asks the questions, "What is art?", "Who can businesses refuse service to?" and perhaps even, “What is religion?”
In May, the Gay Wedding Institute partnered with Kathryn Hamm of WeddingWire and MBKinsights to study wedding professionals (the group most impacted by the ruling) in advance of the upcoming decision.
Specifically, we asked, “Should wedding-related businesses be able to refuse to provide services to same-sex couples based on religious objections or required to provide those services to same-sex couples as they would all other couples?”
This same question was asked of the general U.S. population last year by Pew. That study found that 49% of Americans believed wedding businesses should be required to serve all couples. Here are the results of our wedding-professional-specific survey:
67% of wedding professionals believe wedding-related businesses should be required to serve same-sex couples.
Wedding professionals who have provided services or products to a same-sex couple (85%) are more likely to support the requirement that wedding-related business serve same-sex couples as they would all other couples. Conversely, wedding professionals who have not provided services or products to same-sex couples (14%) are more likely to say that businesses should be able to refuse services.
Officiants, wedding planners and photographers/videographers are more likely to support the requirement to serve than the opportunity to refuse to serve same-sex couples. DJs are more likely to believe that wedding-related businesses should be able to refuse service.
Wedding businesses based in New England (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT) overwhelmingly support the requirement to serve (87%). Those based in West South Central US (TX, OK, LA, AR) are most closely split, with a slim majority supporting the requirement to serve (52%).
A majority (58%) of wedding-related services that involve some artistry (photography/videography; florists; lighting/decor designers; invitations; DJs; ceremony music; bands; and wedding cakes) support the requirement to serve same-sex couples.
It's clear that in almost every category of wedding professional, there is agreement that businesses should be required to serve same-sex couples - even when there are religious objections, and even in those categories which we classified as ‘artists’, an argument for freedom of expression being made by Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop.
Finally, important to note: our Study on Wedding Service Refusal allowed for open-ended comments, and 25% of those who left comments revealed that they both supported the ability to refuse to serve, and also think that same-sex couples shouldn’t be denied service.
This qualitative data reinforces that, regardless of the outcome of Masterpiece, the wedding industry as a whole will largely be a safe place for same-sex couples to express their love through marriage. What do you think?