Scientific Opinion Poll: Small Business Owners Oppose Denying Services to LGBT Customers
Entrepreneurs say religion or right to free speech should not be a legal reason to deny goods or services to LGBT customers; believe nondiscrimination policies are good for their bottom lines
Washington, DC—A scientific opinion poll released today found entrepreneurs strongly believe business owners should not be able to deny goods or services to LGBT customers based on their religious beliefs or their right to free speech, and that nondiscrimination policies are good for the business climate and their own business’s bottom lines.
The survey, conducted by Chesapeake Beach Consulting on behalf of Small Business Majority, found nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of small business owners believe business owners should not be permitted to deny goods or services to LGBT persons based on an owner’s religious beliefs. What’s more, 57 percent of entrepreneurs say business owners should not be able to deny services related to a wedding for a same-sex couple based on an owner’s religious beliefs.
Additionally, half of respondents believe a business owner should not be allowed to deny services to a customer because the owner believes that service violates their right to free speech, compared to 34 percent who feel a business owner should be allowed to deny services for this reason. Sixty-two percent think a business owner should not be able to deny services related to a wedding for a same-sex couple based on their right to free speech. Similarly, 55 percent think a business owner should not be able to claim an exemption to nondiscrimination laws if they believe serving a customer goes against their right to free artistic expression.
“Every state that has enacted laws allowing business owners to refuse service to LGBT customers has faced serious economic backlash,” said John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO of Small Business Majority. “As these results make clear, the vast majority of our nation’s job creators do not support policies allowing businesses to treat LGBT persons like second-class citizens because they believe this would be bad for the business climate and bad for their own bottom lines. Lawmakers must understand what small business owners already know – there is a real monetary cost to LGBT discrimination.”
Small business owners were also asked about legislation considered in several states that would allow business owners to deny goods or services to LGBT customers based on their religious beliefs. Roughly 6 in 10 respondents (59 percent) feel that enacting such a law in their state would hurt the business climate.
Small business owners support other protections for LGBT persons. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) believe employers should not be able to fire or refuse to hire someone who is gay or transgender based on the employer’s religious beliefs, and a majority of small business owners (55 percent) agree that nondiscrimination laws actually improve their bottom lines by attracting the most talented employees, regardless of whether the employee is LGBT.
“I firmly believe businesses should not be able to discriminate against LGBT customers, which is why my company has a nondiscrimination policy for our own employees as well as our clients,” said Etti Johanns, CEO of Buena Vista Business Consulting in Atlanta, which offers consulting services to other area small businesses. “If we were to discriminate against anyone for any reason, it would hurt my business, my employees, my future business prospects and, ultimately, my bottom line. That’s why we also help our clients implement nondiscrimination policies at their own businesses, so they can foster a productive work environment and ensure they are not missing out on business opportunities.”
The survey reflects interviews of 500 small business owners with a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent. The randomly selected sample was split along political party lines with 36 percent of respondents identifying as conservative, 41 percent as liberal and 19 percent as pure independent.
For the full poll report, please visit: http://smallbusinessmajority.org/our-research/workforce/small-business-owners-oppose-denying-services-lgbt-customers
About Small Business Majority
Small Business Majority was founded and is run by small business owners to ensure America’s entrepreneurs are a key part of an inclusive, equitable and diverse economy. We actively engage our network of more than 55,000 small business owners in support of public policy solutions and deliver information and resources to entrepreneurs that promote small business growth. Our extensive scientific polling, focus groups and economic research help us educate and inform policymakers, the media and other stakeholders about key issues impacting small businesses and freelancers. Learn more about us on our website and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.