Polls show strong support for banning LGBT discrimination and stopping RFRA legislation

Posted on July 13, 2015

 LANSING, Mich. – Two recently released polls clearly demonstrate that Michiganders and small businesses support full equality for all. According to the Freedom Michigan coalition, this is especially notable as Michigan legislators continue pushing misleadingly named Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) legislation that would let individuals put their religious beliefs ahead of established state and local laws.

The newest poll, released today, shows that small business owners strongly believe they should not be able to refuse goods or services to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) individuals, or to deny services related to a same-sex wedding. A majority also supports enacting laws to protect LGBT individuals against discrimination in employment and public accommodations.

The poll, conducted on behalf of Small Business Majority, the Center for American Progress and American Unity Fund, found that two-thirds of small business owners say businesses shouldn’t be able to deny goods or services to someone who is LGBT based on the owner’s religious beliefs. Of the small business owners responding to the poll, 59% oppose laws allowing individuals, associations or businesses to legally refuse service to anyone based on religious beliefs. As for wedding-related services, 55% say they do not believe a business owner should be allowed to deny services to a same-sex couple based on religious beliefs.

“The topic of religious freedom and how it relates to business practices has been front and center in the media. And once again, small businesses are in the middle of the debate,” said John Arensmeyer, founder & CEO of Small Business Majority. “As these results make clear, our nation’s biggest job creators support policies that are fair and inclusive to all customers and employees.”

In addition, the poll results crossed ideological and religious divides, with 49% of the respondents identifying as Republican, 33% as Democrat and 19% as independent. Participants reported a variety of faith traditions, with 27% regularly attending religious services.

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A second poll, released last week by Public Policy Polling, showed that 68% of Michigan voters want to ban discrimination against LGBT people in employment and housing. The issue has bipartisan consensus, with 76% of Democrats, 66% of independents and 60% of Republicans in support.

The same poll showed that voters are opposed to anti-gay Republican legislative efforts in Michigan. Of those polled, 52% oppose the new RFRA-type law that allows faith-based, taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to deny services to families they say violate their religious beliefs. Other legislation that would only allow clergy to perform marriages — making it harder for same-sex couples to get married, even after the U.S. Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land — is opposed by 69% of voters polled.

“Both of the polls confirm what we’ve known all along: The majority of citizens and businesses in Michigan oppose discrimination against the LGBT community,” said Rana Elmir, deputy director of the ACLU of Michigan. “We will continue working with our partners to support expansion of Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include LGBT people, and to protect individual liberty by opposing harmful RFRA laws.”

 

Freedom Michigan is a coalition of business leaders, lawmakers, faith leaders, grassroots activists, members of the LGBTQ community and concerned residents who have come together across party lines for one goal: To protect gay and transgender Michiganders from discrimination. The campaign was founded by the Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition, formed by leading businesses and corporations across Michigan united in their commitment to update Michigan’s civil rights law to include protections on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.   

 

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