A new Talk Business/Hendrix College poll finds that Arkansas voters believe that’s OK for private businesses that provide wedding services to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Here’s the poll question and the response:


If a business provides wedding services, such as catering or flowers, should it be allowed to refuse those services to same-sex couples for religious reasons, or be required to provide those services as it would to all other customers?

54% Allowed to refuse services
29% Required to provide services
18% Don’t know

The issue of LGBTQ discrimination dominated the last days of the Arkansas General Assembly earlier this year as a debate over a so-called “religious freedom” law drew national attention. Despite the attention and a compromise that put Arkansas’s law in line with the federal religious freedom law, the law will have little practical effect. Discriminating against someone based on sexual orientation was legal in Arkansas before the law and still remains so. 

Hendrix’s Jay Barth, who writes a column for the Arkansas Times, helped construct the poll. Here’s some of his analysis on how the poll broke down by age, race and party affiliation.


The crosstabs … show several interesting patterns as Arkansans vary significantly by age, party, and race. Unsurprisingly, younger Arkansans are significantly more likely to side with the notion that all businesses should offer their services to same-sex couples with a plurality of those under 30 (46%-33%) saying so; nearly six in ten of Arkansans 65 and over believe that religious objections should trump open access to public accommodations.

While about half of Democrats veer towards requiring companies to offer services, Republicans break towards religious objections by a resounding 83%-9% margin; independents split two-to-one in favor of allowing religious objections (54%-27%).

Finally, while white voters steer decidedly towards allowing religious objections (57%-29%), African-American voters are interestingly cross-pressured on the issue. The plurality of African-Americans — quite religious but also deeply concerned about discriminatory actions — answer “don’t know” when asked the question; those who do respond split 35%-24% towards allowing religious objections.