2017-2018 Colloquium Series Welcomes Brian Powell

James H. Rudy Professor of Sociology, Indiana University
When Apr 20, 2018
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Add event to calendar vCal


Friday, April 20

406 Oswald Tower



"Americans’ Views on Refusal of Services to Same-Sex Couples: 

Evidence from a National Survey Experiment"


Legislators and courts are debating whether a business should be able to deny services to same-sex couples if such services go against the business owner’s religious beliefs. This issue has reached the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Proponents of service refusal contend that requiring a business to provide services undermines religious freedom—and, for some businesses, artistic expression and freedom of speech. Opponents respond that service refusal to sexual minorities discriminates in the same way as service refusal to racial minorities did in the past. These debates are occurring at the same time that Americans’ views on gay rights have liberalized and same-sex marriage has been legalized. Yet we know little of what the public thinks about denial of services. Brian Powell reports patterns from the first national survey experiment that clarifies the extent to which the American public endorses of rejects businesses’ right to refuse service and the conditions that increase or decrease such support.  The survey experiment answer four questions:

  1. Does support for service refusal apply only to religions reasons or extend to non-religion reasons?
  2. Does support for service refusal apply to self-employed individuals only or extend to corporations?
  3. Does support for service refusal extend to other groups, such as interracial couples?
  4. What explanations do Americans give for their support or opposition to service refusal and to what extent do these explanations correspond with those given in political and legal spheres?