Our poll shows a decline in support for a marriage amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman among our readers who identify as Iowa Republicans.

Marriage Amendment Support Declines

51.2 percent of our readers said they support such a change with 37.8 percent saying they were against it. This number represents a 15.3 percent drop among our Republican readers when we asked this question in 2014.

In 2014, among those identifying as Republican 66.5 percent favored a marriage amendment while 23.7 percent opposed. Also, in 2014 a total of 51.1 percent said they supported an amendment (a number that included self-identified Libertarians and Democrats since our poll was for the general election in 2014). This current survey’s respondents are those who said they plan to vote in the upcoming Republican primary on June 5, 2018. Registered Libertarians this year will have a primary since they met the threshold required by law in the last election (and we will offer a straw poll for them after Labor Day). So while there were some who identified as libertarian ideologically in this particular survey, the number was minimal.

The percentage of self-identified conservatives supporting a marriage amendment was higher with 62.6 percent supporting a constitutional amendment and 29.1 percent opposing such a measure. Since 2014, support for a marriage amendment among our self-identified conservative members dropped by 18.4 percent. In 2014 81 percent of conservatives supported a marriage amendment while only 11.5 percent opposed it.

Self-identified evangelicals in our survey registered the highest support with 69.4 percent supporting a marriage amendment and 21.4 percent opposing it. This outcome represents a 4.7 percent drop since 2014, but more telling is the 13.2 percent increase among evangelicals since then who object to a marriage amendment from 8.6 percent to 21.8.

A majority of Mainline Protestants, self-identified moderates, and our readers who are between the ages of 18 to 34-years of age oppose a constitutional amendment defining marriage. Catholics, taking this year’s survey, also oppose an amendment whereas Catholics supported the idea in our 2014 survey.

Support for Religious Liberty Protection Is Still Overwhelming

While there was a decline in support for a marriage amendment, support for protecting religious liberty remained very high.


When asked, “Should businesses be compelled by the government to provide a service for an activity if it violates their religious conscience?” 85.1 percent of our Iowa Republican readers said no. Only 9 percent said yes. While it is still overwhelming it still represents a 10 percent decline among Republicans since our survey was last taken in 2014 where 95.3 percent opposed such an idea.

We asked a new question this year, “Should the Iowa Legislature pass religious conscience exemptions to our current Civil Rights Code?”

A majority (55.9 percent) of our readers support such language being added to Iowa’s current Iowa Civil Rights Code while only 19.1 percent oppose the idea. Mainline Protestants and moderates were the only groups to oppose such a measure.

Our Iowa Republican Readers Are Solidly Pro-Life

Support for a ban on webcam abortions has remained virtually unchanged since 2014. For this current survey, 87.2 percent of our Iowa Republican readers said they supported a ban on webcam (also known as telemed) abortions. Only 5.9 percent opposed the ban. This number is a slight drop in support from 2014 where 88.6 percent of Republicans supported a ban, but there was also a decline in those opposed to the idea as well, in 2014 6.8 percent of Republican readers objected to a webcam abortion ban.

This year there was also strong support among our Republican readers for a personhood amendment or law.

73.4 percent of our respondents said they would support either a personhood constitutional amendment or state law that protects human life from conception. Only 16.5 percent of our Republican readers would oppose. This number does represent a 7.5 percent decline in support since 2014 (80.9 percent) with a 6.5 percent increase in opposition since 2014 (10.6 percent).

Moderates were the only group that had a small plurality that opposed a personhood amendment or law; even that group supported a ban on webcam abortions.

Concluding Thoughts

I’m not surprised by the decline in support for a marriage amendment even among our readers. Support was not that high in 2014 and that was before the Supreme Court’s decision Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 that struck down that held states could not ban same-sex marriage. We are two years past that decision, also same-sex marriage has been allowed in Iowa since 2009, and my sense is that our readers largely feel it is not likely we are going to go back.

In hindsight, I wish I asked whether or not they supported the Court’s ruling, as well as, asked those opposed if they opposed because they agree with same-sex marriage or because they think it is a waste of time and energy.  I pretty sure, among conservatives and evangelicals (older than 24) would say the latter.

I’m curious as to why there is strong opposition to business owners being compelled to participate in something that violates their religious conscience while just under 56 percent support religious conscience exemptions to the Iowa Civil Rights Code. That seems to be a discrepancy and I’m not sure why it exists. My best guess would be that we just have not had many instances of business owners being compelled to violate their religious conscience in Iowa. I can think of only one instance (Gortz Haus) before the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.

I’m encouraged by the strong support for pro-life measures among our Iowa Republican readers.

Note: Our 2017 survey is not a scientific poll. Our straw poll was conducted online between August 9-August 16, 2017 and had 188 participants. Participants were limited to those who identified as Iowans who planned to vote in the upcoming Iowa Republican Primary on June 5, 2018. Participants were only allowed to take the survey once.


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  1. “We are two years past that decision, also same-sex marriage has been allowed in Iowa since 2009, and my sense is that our readers largely feel it is not likely we are going to go back.”

    Understandably. The sky didn’t fall.The decision affected relatively few people, almost none negatively and was positive for many more. In the scope of things, it was a nothing-burger, which is actually what many opposing marriage equity feared. That is, the fear was less that society would be hugely negatively affected, but that *it might not*. It’s like having your bluff called when you’re only holding a pair of twos. The next generation won’t barely comprehend why it was such a big deal.

  2. Shane, do you have any gay friends?

    Two of my best friends are gay and Christian. They have a solid marriage. They have good jobs. They do not affect my marriage or cause me any stress. They water my plants when I am on vacation. They brought food for my family when my baby was born.

    The things that would lessen the stress in my household (and therefore my marriage) are paid maternity leave, single-payer health care, and high quality, affordable child care. I’ve talked to Lutheran families in Sweden, and they are shocked that many Christians in the U.S. are not supportive of any of these family-friendly initiatives.

    What did Jesus say about homosexuality? NOTHING. What did he say about helping poor people? Well, quite at lot. Jesus had his priorities in order. Maybe we should, too.

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