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Poll: Americans support Executive Order to ban anti-LGBT workplace discrimination

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign today released results of a poll that shows overwhelming support for an Executive Order to ban federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

73% of 2012 likely voters favor such an order and support remains strong regardless of age, race, education, political ideology, and a number of other demographics.

“Americans recognize that discrimination is bad for business and they want our government to take action,” HRC President Joe Solmonese said. “An executive order is the best step we can take right now to ensure that what matters is how you do your job, not who you are.”

When asked: “As you may know, under current federal law and in many states, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are NOT protected from discrimination in the work place. Would you support or oppose a policy that required companies that do business with the federal government to not discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people in employment?” 73% said they supported the policy, 9% opposed the policy and 9% were unsure.

One striking result of the poll is the strength of support for an Executive Order (EO) across usually divergent demographic groups.

Liberals support the EO at 90%; moderates at 77% and even conservatives at 60%. Democrats support the EO at 86%; independents at 70% and Republicans at 61%.

There is no significant distinction by age group (18-29 year olds, 69% support; 30-49 year olds, 79% support; 40-49 year olds, 75% support; 50-64 year olds, 70% support; and 65+ year olds, 73% support) or by level of education (College educated likely voters support at 73% and non-college educated likely voters at 73%).

White likely voters support the EO at 72% with Black voters at 80% and Hispanic voters at 72%.

Broken down by religion, protestant support is at 68%, Catholic support at 77%, and born again Christian support at 64%.

Where voters live also does not play a factor with 76% of big city likely voters supporting the EO, 73% of rural voters supporting and 76% of suburban voters supporting.

“It’s not often that an issue is supported by everyone from born again Christians to liberals to rural residents to Catholics,” Solmonese said. “It goes to show the tremendous popularity of this common-sense step.”

Under a standing Executive Order from the Johnson administration, government contractors are barred from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. HRC first proposed that the administration add sexual orientation and gender identity to that list in our “Blueprint for Positive Change” – a series of policy recommendations we presented to the Obama administration shortly after the election in November 2008. As part of a coalition advocating for this order, HRC has met with officials across the administration including at the White House to advocate the President take this important step.

The poll shows that voters are 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.

Policies of non-discrimination are among the best practices of Corporate America. HRC’s Corporate Equality Index reveals 86% of Fortune 500 companies have their own policies against sexual orientation non-discrimination and nearly half cover gender identity. Just a decade ago, 61 percent had sexual orientation policies and only three percent covered gender identity.

The national survey of 800 likely voters was conducted for HRC by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research from Nov. 9-13, 2011. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.46 percentage points.

More on the proposed Executive Order HERE.