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Small business survey finds strong support for laws protecting LGBT workers

The Small Business Majority has published a report showing strong support among small business owners for federal and state laws banning bias against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The report, announced June 4, provides a clearer picture of support for anti-discrimination legislation in the business community. Surveys – and policies – have for years shown strong support at some of nation’s largest and wealthiest companies, the Fortune 500 members. Also, activists on the right have long maintained – erroneously – that broadening anti-discrimination laws to include LGBT people puts an added and unwanted burden on small business owners.

The Small Business Majority is an advocacy group founded and run by small business owners to “focus on solving the biggest problems facing small businesses today.” The organization engages small business owners and policymakers on the big issues that impact business and the economy, including immigration and health care reform, clean energy and LGBT equality.

SBM said June 4 that “national scientific opinion polling shows the vast majority of small business owners believe we’re long overdue for federal and state policies protecting all workers from discrimination, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s good for business, it helps companies attract and retain talent, and it’s the right thing to do, according to our nation’s leading job creators.”

The findings in the report:

• More than two-thirds of entrepreneurs believe federal law should prohibit employment discrimination against gay and transgender people.

• Seven in 10 owners in states without anti-discrimination policies protecting LGBT workers say their state should have a law.

• When asked if, to the best of their knowledge, it is legal or illegal under federal law to fire or refuse to hire someone because they are gay or transgender, about 81 percent of small business owners said it is illegal.

• A 63 percent majority believes an employer should not be able to fire or refuse to hire someone who is gay or transgender if working with a gay or transgender employee conflicts with the employer’s)religious beliefs.

• About 70 percent believe a business should not be legally allowed to refuse services to some customers but not others based on religious beliefs.

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