Post submitted by former HRC Communications Campaign Director Brandon Lorenz
Today, HRC released new polling data showing strong support for a federal non-discrimination law protecting LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing, access to public places and other areas.
“The simple and unfortunate reality is that for all the progress made in recent years, LGBT Americans still lack fundamental federal legal protections when it comes to issues like employment and housing,” said David Stacy, government affairs director for HRC. “Nearly two-thirds of LGBT Americans report experiencing discrimination, which is why now more than ever, we need a federal bill to ensure that everyone, including LGBT Americans, has a fair chance to earn a living, advance themselves, and be judged on their performance, not on who they are or who they love.”
In many states, the protections available for LGBT Americans are a patchwork at best and nonexistent at worst. Though marriage equality is the law of the land in 37 states and the District of Columbia, in 14 of those very same states where same-sex couples can be married, there are no explicit, reliable, fundamental federal protections for LGBT Americans with regard to issues like employment, housing, or access to public spaces, meaning that a same-sex couple risks being married one afternoon and fired the next morning.
“This new data again demonstrates that most Americans are shocked to discover that many LGBT Americans can be denied a job, a room in a hotel, a seat at a restaurant, a place in school, equal access to credit, or housing because they still lack explicit federal protections from discrimination -- and that once people learn that, they overwhelmingly support the basic idea that LGBT Americans should be judged only on their merits, just like everyone else. It’s time to act,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley.
Congressman David Cicilline said, “I am honored to be leading this important effort in the House, and look forward to working closely with Senator Merkley, the Human Rights Campaign, advocates, and my congressional colleagues to craft legislation that protects all Americans from discrimination. The data shows that the American people overwhelmingly believe that no one should be discriminated against simply for being who they are. It’s time to ensure that the LGBT community has access to the same protections afforded to prevent discrimination based on gender, sex, race, and disabilities. It is shocking that in America today someone can be fired from their job and prevented from providing for their family because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
In December, HRC released a report highlighting how LGBT Americans lack explicit federal protections when it comes to discrimination. It highlighted the need for legislation in seven categories: employment, housing, access to public places, education, federal funding, credit and jury service.
Highlights from the Poll, which was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for the Human Rights Campaign:
- Likely voters support a federal nondiscrimination law by an overwhelming margin: 69 to 27.
- Voters are prepared to hold politicians accountable for opposing a nondiscrimination bill.
- Discrimination protections are a major priority of the LGBT community.
- Nearly two-thirds of LGBT Americans have experienced discrimination.
Likely Voters Support a Federal Nondiscrimination Law by an Overwhelming Margin: 69 to 27
According to the survey, voters across party lines overwhelmingly approved of a nondiscrimination law. Republicans supported it 51% to 43%, Independents supported it 72% to 23% and democrats supported it 80% to 18%. Voters were asked to respond to the following bill description:
Would you favor or oppose a federal law that would prohibit discrimination against people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender in matters of employment, housing, education, credit, jury selection, federal grants and assistance, and access to public places? This bill prohibits the discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in matters of employment, including the hiring, firing or promoting of employees at all privately run businesses, governments or non-profits. This bill prohibits the discrimination on matters of housing and credit and includes the buying, selling and renting of houses or apartments. This bill prohibits the discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in matters of access to public places, including restaurants, restrooms, gyms, retail outlets and other places open to the general public. This bill grants authority to the Attorney General to enforce this law.
Voters are Prepared to Hold Opponents of the Nondiscrimination Bill Accountable
Politicians who oppose a federal nondiscrimination law put themselves at potential risk in a presidential election cycle, according to the survey. 64 percent of likely voters said they would be less likely to support their member of Congress if he or she opposed the bill. Intensity of supporters was high as well – 43 percent said they would be “much less likely” to support their member of Congress if he or she opposed the bill.
Nondiscrimination Bill is the Next Highest Priority for LGBT Americans after Marriage Equality
A separate survey of 1,000 LGBT Americans showed that 74 percent believed a federal nondiscrimination bill should be the “top priority” or “top two or three” priorities for the LGBT community. Only marriage equality scored higher.
Nearly Two-thirds of LGBT Americans Have Experienced Discrimination
The enormous progress made on marriage equality in the last few years has obscured a troubling development – an enormous percentage of LGBT Americans have experienced discrimination. 63 percent reported experiencing discrimination in their personal lives. 47 percent of these reported experiencing discrimination in the workplace, 19 percent reported experiencing discrimination while trying to access public spaces, 14 percent reported discrimination in housing and 8 percent reported discrimination while in the education system. Moreover, a 64 percent majority of LGBT Americans described discrimination as a major problem in this country.
METHODLOGY: A national survey of 1,000 2016 Likely voters. The survey was conducted by live professional interviewers between January 25 - 31, 2015. Forty-five percent of all interviews were conducted on a cell phone. The sample is subject to a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence interval; margin of error is higher among subgroups. A national web survey of 1,000 LGBT participants. The survey was live from January 23 – February 3, 2015. Participants were contacted from a panel sample of LGBT Americans monitored by Research Now.