Screen Readers Skip to Content

Businesses & Gov. Officials Should Not Discriminate Against LGBT

Author: The Harris Poll
Published: 9th Oct 2015
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A
Additional References: Discrimination and Abuse Publications

Summary: Most Americans believe government officials should not allow religious beliefs to stand in way of issuing marriage licenses to all couples.

Main Document

As Kentucky's Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis may now realize, most Americans believe that government officials should not allow their religious beliefs to stand in the way of issuing marriage licenses to all couples. A new national survey reveals that Americans shun this form of discrimination not only by public officials, but also by businesses that wish to deny goods or services to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people.

A full two-thirds (67%) of Americans, including 78% of LGBT Americans, agreed that a government official should be obligated to serve all of the public and perform all duties, regardless of their religious beliefs. The Out & Equal Workplace survey also confirmed that 60% of Americans (and 80% of LGBT individuals) believe that business owners should not be permitted to turn away anyone based on their religious beliefs.

These and other findings were included in the 2015 Out & Equal Workplace Survey, released today. The annual study was conducted online between September 9 and 17, 2015, by The Harris Poll® in conjunction with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates and Witeck Communications, among 2,368 U.S. adults, of whom 304 self-identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (which includes an over-sample of gay and lesbian adults). Launched in 2002, this survey has become a trusted annual barometer of attitudes surrounding LGBT issues in the workplace and is the longest-running national survey of its kind. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found here.

"These findings makes it clear that a majority of Americans still believe that fairness and equal treatment are a birthright for all of us - and that discrimination against LGBT people has no justification," said Selisse Berry, Founder, CEO, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates. "This past year, we saw more and more business leaders and corporations boldly oppose discriminatory religious freedom legislation, while standing up for their workforce and their customers. Out & Equal takes pride in helping build this positive foundation for equality across America and around the world."

Strong Support for Federal NonDiscrimination Protections:

The survey also informed respondents that there is no federal law today that protects someone who is gay or transgender from discrimination in public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels and other businesses open to all the public. When asked if they would support such a law, 6 out of 10 (62%) Americans agreed, with 44% saying they "strongly support" a federal law, and, by contrast, only 14% saying they "strongly oppose" such a law.

In a related question, the survey found that 21% of Americans believe that LGBT people are protected from being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity in all 50 states, including 12% of LGBT people who share this misconception. However, there is no such federal law, and today there are only 22 states with workplace protections based on sexual orientation, and 19 states that include protections for gender identity.

State Exemptions for Individual Religious Beliefs The survey also touched on the rise of state legislation that would expand ways to exempt individuals from laws or regulations that conflict with their religious beliefs. Forty-five percent of Americans say they oppose expanding these religious exemptions at the state level, with just 30% in support. Roughly one out of five, however, said they still were not sure.

"Americans are debating and learning much about the kind of society they desire," said Bob Witeck, President of Witeck Communications. "The good news is that their distaste for discrimination seems to be growing, and this signal is keenly understood in the marketplace and throughout American life."

2015 Out & Equal Workplace Summit:

The Out & Equal Workplace Summit opened on Monday, October 5, and will close on Thursday, October 8, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. The Summit attracts over 3,000 attendees from more than 30 countries. LGBT employees and straight allies, along with human resources and diversity professionals, representing a broad cross-section of the nation's leading companies a majority from the Fortune 500 are participating in this year's Summit, focused on achieving workplace equality.

For more information about the Summit, please visit


This Harris Poll was conducted online (in partnership with Out & Equal and Witeck Communications) within the United States between September 9 and 17, 2015, among 2,368 adults (ages 18 and over), of whom 304 self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (including an over-sample of lesbian and gay adults). Figures for age, sex, race, education, region and income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. In addition, the results for the gay and lesbian sample were weighted separately based on profiles of the gay and lesbian population that The Harris Poll has compiled through many different online surveys. Propensity score weighting also was used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Poll, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is the world's premiere nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workplace equality. Out & Equal collaborates with Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies to provide a safe, welcoming and supportive environment for LGBT employees.

Since 1996, Out & Equal has worked with executives, human resources professionals and Employee Resource Groups to provide leadership and professional development, education and research.

Out & Equal hosts an annual Workplace Summit, where employees and experts from around the world gather to share strategies and best practices to create workplace equality, inclusive of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions. For more information go to

The Harris Poll

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. For more information, or to see other recent polls, visit us at

Witeck Communications, Inc.

Witeck Communications, Inc. ( is a leading strategic marketing communications firm, specializing in outreach, respect and inclusion for diverse LGBT communities. For nearly 25 years, Witeck Communications has served as a bridge between corporate America and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. In 2003, American Demographics magazine identified Bob Witeck one of 25 experts over the last 25 years who has made significant contributions to the fields of demographics, market research, media and trend spotting for his path breaking work on the gay and lesbian market. He has appeared in worldwide media outlets including Fortune, CNBC, Daily Telegraph, CNN, Reuters, Associated Press, Ad Age, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Post to Twitter Add to Facebook

Latest Discrimination and Abuse Publications

The above information is from our reference library of resources relating to Discrimination and Abuse that includes:

Lack of Sexually Injuries Does Not Mean Rape Victim Is Making It Up thumbnail image.
A new study reveals the absence of sexually related injuries cannot be used in court to infer that rape victims are making it up.
Publish Date: 8th Oct 2023
Why Sexually Harassed People Might Not Come Forward Immediately or at All thumbnail image.
What would a reasonable person do? Exploring the gap between experienced and anticipated responses to sexual harassment.
Publish Date: 10th Jun 2023
Some LGBT Allies Don't Want Gay Neighbors thumbnail image.
Study explores stigmatizing behaviors expressed by avid supporters of sexual minorities in a survey 8.5% who said they were fully accepting of gay people did not want gay neighbors.
Publish Date: 6th Mar 2023
Moderate Intoxication Does Not Impair Sexual Assault Recall thumbnail image.
Women can recall details of sexual assault and rape with accuracy, even if they have drunk, or expected to drink, moderate amounts of alcohol.
Publish Date: 1st Feb 2023 - Updated: 3rd Feb 2023

1How Many Genders Are There?
Alphabetical list of gender identities.

2Transgender Reporting Guide
How to write about transgender people.

3Glossary of Sexuality Terms
Definitions of sexual terms & acronyms.

4Glossary of Sexual Identities
Definitions of gender related terms.

5Am I Gay? Questions to Ask
Think you may be gay or bisexual?

• Submissions: Send us your coming events and LGBTQ related news stories.

• Report Errors: Please report outdated or inaccurate information to us.

• (APA): The Harris Poll. (2015, October 9). Businesses & Gov. Officials Should Not Discriminate Against LGBT. Retrieved May 19, 2024 from

• Permalink: <a href="">Businesses & Gov. Officials Should Not Discriminate Against LGBT</a>