Post submitted by former HRC Communications Campaign Director Brandon Lorenz

Another new poll this week shows that Americans are standing with LGBT Americans and opposing Indiana-style “religious freedom” laws that allow businesses to discriminate against customers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

According to MSNBC, the NBC News poll “found that 63% of Americans say business owners should be required to provide products or services to individuals who are gay or lesbian, while 37% say the business owner should be allowed to refuse if homosexuality is against their religious beliefs… Across all ages and races, Americans say a business must serve gays and lesbians no matter the owner’s religious beliefs.”

This is the second poll released this week showing strong support for LGBT Americans to be protected against discrimination. Earlier this week, a poll released by Reuters/Ipsos showed similarly showed, that voters are rejecting so-called Indiana-style “Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (RFRA) bills that allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT citizens.

According to Reuters, “The poll found solid opposition to allowing businesses to refuse services or refuse to hire people or groups based on religious beliefs. Fifty-four percent said it was wrong for businesses to refuse services, while 28 percent said they should have that right. And 55 percent said businesses should not have the right to refuse to hire certain people or groups based on the employer's religious beliefs, while 27 percent said businesses should have the right.”

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, or fundamental federal protections for LGBT Americans, with regard to issues like employment, housing, or public accommodations. This means that in 14 states, a same-sex couple risks being married one afternoon and then fired the next morning.

The findings in the NBC and Reuters polls mirror a national survey commissioned by the ABC/Washington Post in 2014. This survey also found voters strongly rejected the idea that businesses should ​ be able to discriminate against LGBT customers. When asked, “Do you think businesses should or should not be allowed to refuse service to gays and lesbians?” 69 percent said that no, “businesses should not be able to discriminate.”

 Finally, it should be noted that this week’s Reuters/Ipsos survey is consistent with a recent national survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for the Human Rights Campaign, which found that likely voters support a federal non-discrimination law by an overwhelming margin of 69 percent to 27 percent  - support that exceeds even marriage equality and crosses partisan and demographic lines. According to the survey, voters across party lines overwhelmingly approved of a federal non-discrimination law. Republicans supported it 51 percent to 43 percent, Independents supported it 72 percent to 23 percent, and Democrats supported it 80 percent to 18 percent. 

Additionally, the survey showed that likely voters overwhelmingly supported the idea of ensuring federal law protects LGBT Americans from being discriminated against when it comes to accessing public places like theaters and government buildings. Support for ensuring LGBT Americans had access to public spaces stood at 83 percent to 15 percent.

Read more about the survey here.


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