New Poll: Small Business Owners Overwhelmingly Support LGBT Nondiscrimination Protections

July 13, 2015 • 2:43 pm
Polling data sends clear warning to states considering anti-LGBT laws


Dan Rafter | [email protected] | 202-251-7308

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Small business owners strongly support federal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and reject harmful bills that would allow discrimination against LGBT customers. Small Business Majority, American Unity Fund and the Center for American Progress released the new poll today.

Key findings from the poll include:

  • Two-thirds of small business owners don’t believe businesses should be able to deny goods or services to LGBT people based solely on their religious beliefs.
  • Eighty percent of small business owners support federal protections for LGBT people covering public accommodations – public spaces like restaurants, shops, hotels and parks.
  • Nearly 60 percent of small business owners reject laws that would allow individuals or businesses to legally refuse service to LGBT people based on religious beliefs.

“It’s not surprising that small business owners are so overwhelmingly supportive of policies that make good economic sense,” said Matt McTighe, Freedom for All Americans campaign manager. “Our communities do best when businesses of all sizes can thrive. And laws that create hostile environments for LGBT people – making it legal for them to lose their job or even be denied service in a restaurant – hurt businesses.”

Business owners large and small rallied in Indiana three months ago to beat back a discriminatory RFRA bill, and the fight took a heavy toll on Governor Mike Pence, who supported the legislation. A June 2015 survey conducted by a Republican pollster found the governor’s approval rating had plummeted since the April RFRA fight – with a 34 percent approval rating and a 43 percent disapproval. A majority of voters – 54 percent – said they’d rather have a new governor than re-elect Pence. The governor’s handling of the situation appears to have unnerved donors as well. Pence’s Democratic challenger outraised the incumbent by more than $125,000 during the first half of 2015.

“This should serve as a warning for other states looking to advance archaic legislation that would allow for discrimination – businesses are watching, and they don’t support these types of policies,” added McTighe. “It’s not just the major corporations who support equality. It’s the everyday mom-and-pop stores who play such central roles in so many of our small communities.”

The survey demonstrated that support among small business owners cuts across the ideological spectrum – nearly 50 percent of the respondents identified as Republicans. The findings reflect the values of small businesses across the nation, with more than 80 percent of those responding identifying as having fewer than 10 employees.

Many of the nation’s leading businesses are among the most ardent supporters of nondiscrimination laws. Nearly 90 percent of the nation’s Fortune 500s have nondiscrimination policies covering sexual orientation, while nearly 70 percent have policies for gender identity.

Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign dedicated to ensuring every gay and transgender American is fully protected from discrimination under the law, no matter where they live. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses big and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.


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