New report shows rise in support of nondiscrimination laws

Posted on 18 Feb 2016 at 3:02pm

PRRI-AVA-Nondiscrimination-laws-heat-map-640x532A new report released by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute shows seven in ten, or 71 percent, of Americans support LGBT nondiscrimination laws.

The survey, based on more than 42,000 interviews conducted between May 2015 and early January 2016, explores Americans’ attitudes on same-sex marriage, nondiscrimination laws for LGBT people, and religious exemptions to those laws.

“Despite the fact that there are 28 states that have no LGBT nondiscrimination laws, there is near consensus support–across partisan, religious, geographic, and demographic lines–for laws that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans from discrimination in jobs, housing, and public accommodations,” said PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones. “Even among groups that are more opposed to same-sex marriage, solid majorities nonetheless favor LGBT nondiscrimination laws.”

Nearly six in ten, or 59 percent, of Americans oppose allowing small business owners to refuse to provide products or services to LGBT people if doing so violates their religious beliefs. But there are stark partisan divides. Democrats are significantly more likely than Republicans to oppose such religious exemptions (74 percent vs. 40 percent, respectively).

“There is notably strong opposition to religiously-based refusals to serve gay and lesbian people among groups who have historically experienced discrimination,” said PRRI Research Director Dan Cox. “African Americans are one of the most religiously active groups in the country, but they are also strongly opposed to policies that would allow small business owners to refuse to provide products or services to gay or lesbian people on religious grounds.”

Currently, 33 states, including Texas, lack fully inclusive LGBT non-discrimination protections. Without statewide or federal protections, people at risk for being fired, denied a job or apartment, or refused service because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

In a statement, David Stacy, Government Affairs Director at the Human Rights Campaign, called on Congress to listen to the majority of Americans who believe in LBT nondiscrimination laws.

“It’s long past time for Congress to end a status quo where LGBT people remain at risk in a majority of states of being denied services or fired because of who they are or who they love,” Stacy said in a statement. “A majority of Americans agree, whether they are living in red states or blue. Americans across the country get it, and understand that everyone should be able to live free from fear of discrimination and be able to have a fair chance to earn a living and provide for their families, including people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender,”

Last year, a bipartisan coalition introduced The Equality Act, which would establish protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in matters of employment, housing, access to public places, federal funding, credit, education and jury service. In addition, it would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in federal funding and access to public places.

Nine of Texas’ eleven Democrats have signed on sponsors or co-sponsors of the bill. They are Reps. Joaquin Castro, Lloyd Doggett, Al Green, Ruben Hinojosa, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Sheila Jackson Lee, Beto O’Rourke, Marc Veasey and Filemon Vela. Recently two Illinois Republicans, Sen. Mark Kirk and Rep. Bob Dold, became the first Republicans to co-sponsor the bill.

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