New HRC Data: American Public Strongly Supports Federal Non-Discrimination Protections

by Ianthe Metzger

ENDA & Executive Order Enjoy Super Majority Support


WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) today released new public opinion research that conclusively demonstrates strong public support for federal non-discrimination workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers.

A national survey of 1,200 registered voters conducted June 6-10, 2014 by TargetPoint Consulting found that 63 percent of those surveyed favor a federal law that protects gay and transgender people from employment discrimination while only 25 percent oppose it.  Enthusiasm for this is especially strong among supporters: 42 percent strongly favor it, while only 16 percent strongly oppose. 

HRC’s public opinion research on an executive order that would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers had similar results. A 2011 poll of likely voters conducted for HRC by GQRR found that 73 percent favored such an order and support was strong regardless of age, race, education, political ideology, and a number of other demographics.

According to the data released today by HRC, majority and plurality support for federal workplace protections holds across a variety of subgroups, including some that have traditionally been reluctant on LGBT issues:

·         63%  support for those with a high school diploma or less

·         58%  support among frequent church goers

·         55%  support in the South

·          52%  support among men over the age of 40

·          47%  plurality support among Evangelicals

·          47%  plurality support among seniors (65+)

·          43%  plurality support among Republicans

Currently, there’s no federal law or regulation that explicitly bans workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. And in 29 states, it's legal under state law to fire or refuse employment to a person based on sexual orientation -- and 32 states lack explicit laws banning discrimination based on gender identity.

According to this new research, the public perceives that gay and transgender people regularly face this kind of employment discrimination. Nearly three quarters (74 percent) of registered voters say there is a lot or some discrimination against LGBT people. Within this group, 44 percent say there is a lot of discrimination against transgender people, while 35 percent say the same for gay and lesbian people. Almost 4 out of 10 voters (38 percent) say they have personally witnessed prejudice or discrimination against a gay or transgender person. Half of these reported episodes took place in some sort of social setting, 30 percent in school and 25 percent of these occurrences were in the workplace. This means that one out of every ten registered voters have personally witnessed prejudice or discrimination against a gay or transgender person in the workplace.

HRC continues to advocate for municipal non-discrimination ordinances and statewide non-discrimination bills across the country. At the federal level, HRC--along with our partners at Americans for Workplace Opportunity--are in the middle of a $4 million effort to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act through both houses of Congress. And while this campaign is ongoing, we continue to urge President Obama to sign an executive order barring workplace discrimination by federal contractors.

Bipartisan momentum for ENDA continues to build in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Last week, Reps. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) and Jim Costa (D-CA) cosponsored the legislation. 

HRC's private sector advocacy continues with the same sense of urgency. For 12 years, HRC’s Corporate Equality Index has set key standards for equality in America’s workplaces. Corporations of all sizes, regions and industries have risen to the challenge and adopted policies and practices that treat LGBT workers fairly and equally.  According to HRC’s research, 91 percent of Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation in their workplace policies and 61 percent include gender identity. Also, nearly 450 major companies require their suppliers to adhere to their own LGBT-inclusive workplace policies, including more than half of the 100 largest corporations in America.  These companies span 37 distinct industries and employ 13.7 million people.


The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.


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