A new survey shows that a majority of Americans do not think that public officials or businesses should discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people. The 2015 Out & Equal Workplace Survey, conducted online between September 9 and 17, 2015, by The Harris Poll® in partnership with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates and Witeck Communications, included 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).
“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.”
The survey addressed recent 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 respondents were not sure.
Support/Oppose Legislation That Exempts People From Laws Due To Religious Beliefs
|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%|
|Decline to answer||3%||5%||3%|
The survey 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.
Support/Oppose Businesses Owners’ Right to Deny Goods/Services to LGBT Consumers Due to Religious Beliefs
|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%|
|Decline to answer||3%||1%||3%|
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.
Support/Oppose Government Officials’ Right to Refuse to Issue Marriage Licenses Due to Religious Beliefs
|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%|
|Decline to answer||3%||2%||2%|
Respondents were informed that there is currently no federal law today that protects LGBT people 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. By contrast, only 14% said they “strongly oppose” such a law.
Support for Protection of LGBT From Discrimination in Place of Public Accomodation
|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%|
|Decline to answer||4%||2%||3%|
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. Unfortunately, there is no such federal law. There are only 22 states with workplace protections based on sexual orientation, and 19 states that include protections for gender identity.
“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.”