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More evidence equality is good for business

WASHINGTON – The evidence that LGBT equality is good for business is mounting, according to two new reports released late Tuesday.

A poll by Small Business Majority shows two-thirds of small business owners say federal law should prohibit discrimination against LGBT workers and job applicants.

The survey, which shows the nation’s entrepreneurs support federal and state employment nondiscrimination laws and equity in employment benefits comes on the heels of a landmark new report by a coalition of LGBT civil rights organizations that examines how LGBT workers who have the same job as a coworker, can be legally fired, denied equal benefits, and be required to pay thousands of dollars more in taxes simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The new reports are further evidence that the President must issue an executive order barring discrimination by federal contractors, which has been lingering at the White House, and Congress must pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

“It seems the only people who don’t understand that we need employment protections for LGBT workers are policy makers,” HRC president Chad Griffin said. “It is a stain on our nation that we have yet to protect LGBT workers in this country. Americans, including small business owners – the drivers of our economy – believe workers should not be unfairly treated based on who they are or who they love.”

While the Small Business Majority survey found 67% of small business owners support a federal non-discrimination law, the poll also showed that nearly 60% of those business owners believe that non-discrimination protections helps their bottom line – evidence the Congress must pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

The reports complement a November 2011 poll by HRC that showed 77% of voters support protecting LGBT people from discrimination in employment. This includes 70% of Republicans and 69% of seniors. Voters are also unaware that current federal law does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation with 87% believing that kind of discrimination to be illegal and only 5% correctly knowing that it remains legal.

Among Fortune 500 companies, 88 percent have sexual orientation non-discrimination policies and 57% have gender identity non-discrimination policies. Additionally, more than 90 companies have joined the Business Coalition for Workplace Fairness, a group of leading U.S. employers that support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

HRC continues to call on President Obama to issue an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. There remains no state law barring workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation in 29 states, and 34 states also lack such state protections based on gender identity.