Majority of Americans Agree: Businesses and Government Officials Should Not Discriminate against LGBT People

6 of 10 Americans Favor Federal NonDiscrimination Protections for LGBT People

05:00 AM EDT Oct 6, 2015 Rating
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Majority of Americans Agree:  Businesses and Government Officials  Should Not Discriminate against LGBT People

DALLAS, TX; WASHINGTON, DC; and NEW YORK, NY– As Kentucky’s Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis may now realize, most Americans believe that government officials should not allow their religious beliefs to stand in the way of issuing marriage licenses to all couples. A new national survey reveals that Americans shun this form of discrimination not only by public officials, but also by businesses that wish to deny goods or services to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people.

A full two-thirds (67%) of Americans, including 78% of LGBT Americans, agreed that a government official should be obligated to serve all of the public and perform all duties, regardless of their religious beliefs. The Out & Equal Workplace survey also confirmed that 60% of Americans (and 80% of LGBT individuals) believe that business owners should not be permitted to turn away anyone based on their religious beliefs.

These and other findings were included in the 2015 Out & Equal Workplace Survey, released today. The annual study was conducted online between September 9 and 17, 2015, by The Harris Poll® in conjunction with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates and Witeck Communications, among 2,368 U.S. adults, of whom 304 self-identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (which includes an over-sample of gay and lesbian adults). Launched in 2002, this survey has become a trusted annual barometer of attitudes surrounding LGBT issues in the workplace and is the longest-running national survey of its kind.

“These findings makes it clear that a majority of Americans still believe that fairness and equal treatment are a birthright for all of us – and that discrimination against LGBT people has no justification,” said Selisse Berry, Founder, CEO, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates. “This past year, we saw more and more business leaders and corporations boldly oppose discriminatory religious freedom legislation, while standing up for their workforce and their customers. Out & Equal takes pride in helping build this positive foundation for equality across America and around the world.”

Strong Support for Federal NonDiscrimination Protections

The survey also informed respondents that there is no federal law today that protects someone who is gay or transgender from discrimination in public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels and other businesses open to all the public. When asked if they would support such a law, 6 out of 10 (62%) Americans agreed, with 44% saying they “strongly support” a federal law, and, by contrast, only 14% saying they “strongly oppose” such a law.

In a related question, the survey found that 21% of Americans believe that LGBT people are protected from being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in all 50 states, including 12% of LGBT people who share this misconception. However, there is no such federal law, and today there are only 22 states with workplace protections based on sexual orientation, and 19 states that include protections for gender identity.

State Exemptions for Individual Religious Beliefs

The survey also touched on the rise of state legislation that would expand ways to exempt individuals from laws or regulations that conflict with their religious beliefs. Forty-five percent of Americans say they oppose expanding these religious exemptions at the state level, with just 30% in support. Roughly one out of five, however, said they still were not sure.

“Americans are debating and learning much about the kind of society they desire,” said Bob Witeck, President of Witeck Communications. “The good news is that their distaste for discrimination seems to be growing, and this signal is keenly understood in the marketplace and throughout American life.”

2015 Out & Equal Workplace Summit

The Out & Equal Workplace Summit opened on Monday, October 5, and will close on Thursday, October 8, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. The Summit attracts over 3,000 attendees from more than 30 countries. LGBT employees and straight allies, along with human resources and diversity professionals, representing a broad cross-section of the nation’s leading companies—a majority from the Fortune 500 — are participating in this year’s Summit, focused on achieving workplace equality.

 For more information about the Summit, please visit www.outandequal.org.

 

Table 1

SUPPORT/OPPOSE LEGISLATION THAT EXEMPTS PEOPLE FROM LAWS DUE TO RELIGIOUS BELIEFS

 Some states are considering new legislation that would expand the ways in which people could be exempt from laws or regulations that conflict with their religious beliefs. Would you say that you support or oppose a new law that expands these religious exemptions?

 

 

Total

Total

LGBT

Heterosexual

Base

2368

304

2013

 

%

%

%

Strongly/Somewhat Support (NET)

30

20

32

Strongly support laws that expand religious

exemptions

14

9

15

Somewhat support laws that expand religious

exemptions

16

11

17

Somewhat/Strongly Oppose (NET)

45

61

44

Somewhat oppose laws that expand religious

exemptions

15

20

14

Strongly oppose laws that expand religious

exemptions

30

41

30

Not Sure

21

13

22

Decline to answer

3

5

3

 

Table 2

SUPPORT/OPPOSE BUSINESSES OWNERS’ RIGHT TO DENY GOODS/SERVICES TO LGBT CONSUMERS DUE TO RELIGIOUS BELIEFS

 Do you believe that a business owner should be able to deny goods or services to someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender based on the owner's religious beliefs?

  

 

Total

Total

LGBT

Heterosexual

Base

2368

304

2013

 

%

%

%

No, a business owner

should not be able to deny goods or services to anyone based on his or her religious beliefs

60

80

59

Yes, a business owner should be able to deny goods or services to

anyone based on his or her religious beliefs

27

15

28

Not Sure

10

4

11

Decline to answer

3

1

3

 

 

Table 3

SUPPORT/OPPOSE GOVT OFFICIALS’ RIGHT TO REFUSE  TO ISSUE SAME SEX MARRIAGE LICENSES DUE TO RELIGIOUS BELIEFS

As you may or may not be aware, the Supreme Court recently legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

Some local government officials, such as county clerks or magistrates, are refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying that their refusal is based on their religious beliefs. Do you believe that government officials should be able to refuse to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple based on the official’s religious beliefs?

 

 

Total

Total

LGBT

Heterosexual

Base

2368

304

2013

 

%

%

%

No, a government official should be obligated to serve all of the public and perform all of the duties of their job, regardless of their religious beliefs.

67

78

67

Yes, a government official should be able to refuse to issue a marriage license to same-sex couples based on his or her religious beliefs.

22

19

23

Not Sure

8

1

8

Decline to answer

3

2

2

 

Table 4

SUPPORT FOR PROTECTION OF LGBT FROM DISCRIMINATION IN PLACE OF PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION

As you may know, federal law prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodations, such as restaurants, hotels and other businesses that are open to the public, on the basis of race, national origin, religion or disability.

However, federal law does NOT explicitly protect someone who is gay or transgender.  Would you support or oppose a federal law that would protect gay or transgender people from discrimination in places of public accommodations?

 

 

Total

Total

LGBT

Heterosexual

Base

2368

304

2013

 

%

%

%

Strongly/Somewhat Support (NET)

62

75

61

Strongly support a federal law

44

65

42

Somewhat support a federal law

18

10

19

Somewhat/Strongly Oppose (NET)

21

19

21

Somewhat oppose a federal law

7

6

7

Strongly oppose a federal law

14

13

14

Not Sure

14

4

15

Decline to answer

4

2

3

 

Table 5

CUSTOMERS BUSINESSES SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO REFUSE SERVICES TO DUE TO RELIGIOUS BELIEFS

Some business owners say they should not be required to serve customers when doing so violates their religious beliefs. In your opinion, which of the following groups of customers, if any, should businesses be allowed to refuse service to based on the owner’s religious beliefs:

 

 

Total

Total

LGBT

Heterosexual

Base

2368

304

2013

 

%

%

%

Customers who are gay or lesbian

14

11

14

Customers who are of a different race or ethnicity

5

4

6

Customers who are of a different religion

5

3

5

Customers who are interfaith couples

5

4

5

Customers who are divorced or remarried

4

8

4

Customers who are unmarried couples

4

3

4

Customers who are single parents

4

4

4

Not Sure

44

30

46

Decline to answer

38

49

37

 

Table 6

NUMBER OF STATES BELIEVED TO PROTECT PEOPLE FROM BEING FIRED BASED ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION

How many U.S. states, if any, do you believe currently have laws protecting people from being fired based on their sexual orientation? 

For the purposes of this question, please consider Washington D.C. to be a state as well and factor that into your total estimate.

  

 

Total

Total

LGBT

Heterosexual

Base

2368

304

2013

 

%

%

%

0

15

7

15

Any (Net)

85

93

85

1-9

17

30

15

10-19

15

20

15

20-29

13

17

13

30-39

10

11

10

40-49

9

2

9

50+

21

12

22

MEAN (Incl. 0)

23.4

18.5

23.8

MEDIAN (Incl. 0)

20

15

20

MEAN (Excl. 0)

27.5

19.9

28.1

MEDIAN (Excl. 0)

25

16

25

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online (in partnership with Out & Equal and Witeck Communications) within the United States between September 9 and 17, 2015, among 2,368 adults (ages 18 and over), of whom 304 self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (including an over-sample of lesbian and gay adults).  Figures for age, sex, race, education, region and income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. In addition, the results for the gay and lesbian sample were weighted separately based on profiles of the gay and lesbian population that The Harris Poll has compiled through many different online surveys. Propensity score weighting also was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Poll, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

 

About Out & Equal Workplace Advocates

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is the world’s premiere nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workplace equality. Out & Equal collaborates with Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies to provide a safe, welcoming and supportive environment for LGBT employees.

Since 1996, Out & Equal has worked with executives, human resources professionals and Employee Resource Groups to provide leadership and professional development, education and research.

Out & Equal hosts an annual Workplace Summit, where employees and experts from around the world gather to share strategies and best practices to create workplace equality, inclusive of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions. For more information go to www.outandequal.org.

About Witeck Communications, Inc.

Witeck Communications, Inc. (www.witeck.com) is a leading strategic marketing communications firm, specializing in outreach, respect and inclusion for diverse LGBT communities.  For nearly 25 years, Witeck Communications has served as a bridge between corporate America and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. In 2003, American Demographics magazine identified Bob Witeck one of 25 experts over the last 25 years who has made significant contributions to the fields of demographics, market research, media and trend spotting for his path breaking work on the gay and lesbian market.  He has appeared in worldwide media outlets including Fortune, CNBC, Daily Telegraph, CNN, Reuters, Associated Press, Ad Age, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

 

Press Contacts:

Rachel Rubin
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
415-694-6531
rrubin@outandequal.org

Larry Shannon-Missal
The Harris Poll
585-214-7647
Lawrence.ShannonMissal@nielsen.com

Bob Witeck
Witeck Communications
202-887-8208
info@witeck.com

About The Harris Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. 

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