Mini-Series: Are Families Becoming More Complex? (2 of 4)

Americans' Views on Refusal of Services to Same-Sex Couples: Evidence from a National Survey Experiment

A PSC Brown Bag Seminar

Brian Powell (Indiana University Bloomington, Department of Sociology)

Monday, 2/12/2018, 12:00 pm to 1:15 pm.   ARCHIVED EVENT

Location: 1430 ISR - Thompson

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' definitions of family have become more inclusive and views on same-sex marriage have liberalized. 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 religious reasons or extend to non-religious 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, in particular, 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?

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Brian Powell is James H. Rudy Professor and Co-Director of the Preparing Future Faculty program in the Department of Sociology at Indiana University. He also is affiliated faculty in the Department of Gender Studies and the Kinsey Institute. He recently completed his term as Department Chair and currently is a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation.

Professor Powell's research focuses on family, education, gender, and sexuality. With grants from the National Science Foundation, American Education Research Association, and the Spencer Foundation, he has examined how families confer advantages (or disadvantages) to their children and how family structure influences parental investments in children. He is especially interested in several increasingly visible groups of "atypical" family forms: families with older parents, bi/multiracial families, adoptive families, and gay/lesbian families. His research has appeared in American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Sociology of Education, Social Psychology Quarterly, the American Journal of Public Health, and the Harvard Education Review, among others.

Professor Powell's award-winning book, COUNTED OUT: Same-Sex Relations and Americans' Definitions of Family - coauthored with IU PhDs Catherine Bolzendahl and Claudia Geist and Lala Carr Steelman from the University of South Carolina - documented the transformation in how Americans define family and, in turn, their views regarding same-sex families. He currently is working on his next book, WHO SHOULD PAY? Higher Education, Responsibility and the Public, which explores Americans' views regarding the role of parents, children, and the government in college funding. He also is completing a series of studies that consider Americans’ views regarding same-sex parenting, transgender youths and adults, and denial of services to same-sex and interracial couples.

Professor Powell recently completed his term as Vice-President of the American Sociological Association (ASA). He currently serves on the executive committee of Sociological Research Association and will be president of this association in 2019. He also serves on the board of overseers for the General Social Survey, the most comprehensive national survey on public attitudes. In addition, he has served as the chair of the Social Psychology Section and the Sociology of Education section of the ASA; board member of the Council on Contemporary Families; and Deputy Editor for American Sociological Review, Sociology of Education, and Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

Professor Powell has been the recipient of multiple research awards, including the ASA Family Section's Goode Book Award, the North Central Sociological Association Scholarly Achievement Award, the Midwest Sociological Society's Distinguished Book Award, the ASA Sex and Gender Section's Distinguished Article Award, the ASA Section on Sexualities Distinguished Article Award, the ASA Section on Emotion's Recent Contribution Award, and the ASA Section on Aging and Life Course's Outstanding Publication Award. He also recently received the Distinguished Career Award from the Family Section of the American Sociological Association, the Distinguished Faculty Award from Indiana University's College of Arts and Sciences, and Indiana University's Distinguished Faculty Research Lecturer.

In addition, Professor Powell has been recognized for his teaching and mentoring. Among his teaching awards are Indiana University's Presidents Award for Distinguished Teaching, the IU Wilbert Hite Award for Mentoring, the North Central Sociological Association's John F. Schnabel Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award, and the American Sociological Association's Carla B. Howery Award for Developing Teacher-Scholars (the last two awards with his departmental colleague Bernice Pescosolido).

PSC Brown Bag seminars highlight recent research in population studies and serve as a focal point for building our research community. PSC Brown Bag Archive.

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