A major national survey has found that a majority of Americans believe that bakers should not be forced to make cakes celebrating same-sex weddings if it goes against their religious beliefs.
The findings were part of a report on the stance of Americans regarding various social issues, including free speech, campus speech, religious liberty and tolerance of political expression.
The report, released by Washington D.C.-based think tank the Cato Institute on Tuesday, has found that Americans are largely split on the issue of religious freedom when it clashes with LGBT rights.
The findings indicated that 50 percent of Americans believe that businesses with religious objections should be required to provide services to gays and lesbians, but only 32 percent said that bakers should be required to bake same-sex wedding cakes.
The think tank went on to note that 68 percent of Americans believe that bakers should not be required to bake special-order cakes for gay weddings if it violates their religious convictions.
Most Americans opposed the idea of punishing bakers for refusing to make a cake for a gay wedding. As many as 66 percent said that nothing should happen to such bakers, while 20 percent suggested that people should boycott the bakeries. Only 12 percent said that the bakers should pay a fine, while six percent said that they should lose their business license. Only one percent suggested that such bakers should be sent to jail.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear a major case in December involving Colorado Christian baker Jack Phillips, who was found guilty by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for his refusal to bake a cake for a same-sex couple in 2012.
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing Phillips in court, has cautioned that religious freedom across the U.S. could be endangered if the baker loses his case to overturn the lower court ruling.
"The government should never be able to force artists out of the marketplace — and financially devastate them — just because it disagrees with them. Your right to earn a living and to create art shouldn't depend on whether your view is popular or in line with government orthodoxy," the law group stated last month, as reported by The Christian Post.
Around 1,300 multi-faith leaders and assorted theologically liberal religious groups have recently filed a brief before the high court stating that Phillips should make same-sex wedding cakes despite his religious objections.
Meanwhile, dozens of amicus briefs have been filed in support of Phillips, including a motion filed by the Trump administration in October.
"As a general matter, the United States has a substantial interest in the preservation of federal constitutional rights of free expression," read the government's motion.
"In addition, the United States has a particular interest in the scope of such rights in the context of the Colorado statute here, which shares certain features with federal public accommodations laws including Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990," it continued.