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Americans support gay workplace protection

Americans support gay workplace protection

The majority of Americans support LGBT workplace equality laws and most think it is already against the law to fire someone for being gay.

The new poll has been released by the Human Rights Campaign – the largest LGBT equality organization in the US – in partnership with Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.

Based on a telephone survey in November and released today, the figures show support for gay workplace equality across a range of demographics.

Democrats, Republicans and independents all supported employment protections as did Catholics, Protestants, weekly churchgoers and even born again Christians.

The headline figure shows 77% in favor of protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people at work.

Despite this there is currently no federal non-discrimination law covering sexual orientation or gender identity and only limited protections in some states.

Human Rights Campaign is working with its Washington DC allies to get more cosponsors for the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) which is pending in Congress.

The HRC has celebrated the new figures as showing a further shift in attitudes in favor of equality.

Importantly 70% of self-identified Republicans and 67% of conservatives support anti-discrimination laws.

And support is strong even among groups who tend to be less supportive of LGBT issues, such as seniors (69% among voters over age 65), those with a high school degree or less (68%), observant Christians (77%), born-again Christians (74%), and residents of the Deep South (72%).

“We are at a cultural tipping point in the fight for LGBT equality,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Support for employment protections for LGBT workers is tipping the scale even further toward fairness for all people. What is most promising is that people of all political, religious, and ideological persuasions clearly support non-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people.”

HRC also believes more public education is needed about the laws as most voters falsely believe anti-discrimination laws already exist.

A massive 87% of voters believe it is illegal under federal law to fire someone for being gay and 78% believe it is illegal under state law. Even in states without anti-discrimination laws, 75% of voters think it is illegal under state law to fire someone for being gay or lesbian.

At present, the state legislation is patchy. It is still legal in 29 states to discriminate based on sexual orientation, and in 34 states to do so based on gender identity or expression.

The proposed Employment Nondiscrimination Act would arguably be less strong that similar laws in Europe and elsewhere.

While it would provide basic protection in the workplace it would exempt small business, religious organizations and the military. It does not require that domestic partner benefits be provided to the same-sex partners of employees.

The bill explicitly prohibits preferential treatment and quotas.

The HRC telephone survey was of 800 likely voters and had a margin of error of 3.46%.