Indiana’s Attitudes About Gay Rights Are Complex
Though an overwhelming majority of Indiana’s legislature voted to pass the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act—an act that can be interpreted as containing language that would allow businesses to discriminate against homosexuals—public opinion on the issue of gay rights is far more complicated in that state.
According to a survey created by WISH-TV and Ball State in 2014, 47 percent of Hoosiers personally supported same-sex marriage with a nearly equal 46 percent opposed. Age was found to be a factor, with 77 percent of Hoosiers between 18 and 24 supporting same-sex marriage. Compare that with just 30 percent of people age 65 and older who support it. Currently same-sex marriage is legal in Indiana.
This near complete split in public opinion, however, does not fully represent local attitudes towards laws against gay rights. While the higher courts debated—and eventually struck down—an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage in 2014, another survey by the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University and WISH-TV from December of 2012 found that 54 percent were against changing the constitution while just 38 percent were for it.
While only half of Indiana personally supports gay marriage, and the majority of Hoosiers have expressed reluctance about drafting a law that would ban it. This division between personal religious stances and acceptance of individual legal rights may indeed be behind a massive backlash against the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that has seen Governor Mike Pence backtracking on his signing of the bill this weekend. Pence said he might introduce a clarification into the bill that it does not promote discrimination against gays, as thousands have protested against what they see as its homophobic nature.