Scientific Opinion Poll: Colorado Small Business Owners Oppose Denying Services to LGBT Customers Based on Religious Beliefs

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, December 15, 2016

New polling shows Colorado small businesses strongly believe small business owners should not be able to refuse goods or services to LGBT individuals, or deny services related to same-sex weddings, based on owner's religious beliefs

DENVER–A scientific opinion poll released today shows Colorado small business owners strongly believe business owners should not be able to refuse goods or services to LGBT individuals, or to deny services related to a same-sex wedding, based on an owner's religious beliefs. A majority also oppose efforts to legalize this type of discrimination in Colorado. With ongoing debate surrounding some states’ efforts to enact religious freedom measures, the results show small business owners in Colorado oppose overly broad religious exemptions that could allow for anti-LGBT discrimination in the Centennial State.

The poll, conducted by Chesapeake Beach Consulting on behalf of Small Business Majority, found 65 percent of Colorado small business owners oppose allowing small business owners to deny services to LGBT individuals based on the owner’s religious beliefs. An additional 61 percent say they believe business owners should not be able to deny services related to a wedding for same-sex couples based on the owner’s beliefs.

“I’ve had several LGBT couples get married at my lodge, and I’m proud to say some were my clients even before the Supreme Court recognized marriage equality,” said Christopher Wing, owner of Silver Pick Lodge in Durango. “No business owner should have the right to discriminate against the LGBT community or any other community—regardless of the reason. Using religious freedom to discriminate is a perversion of a noble concept, and laws that allow religion-based discrimination are not only harmful for small businesses, they are harmful to the local economy, the state of Colorado and America as a whole.”  

The poll also sheds light on efforts to enact a religious freedom measure in Colorado. The Colorado House of Representatives considered a bill last March that would have allowed business owners to deny goods and services to someone who is LGBT based on the business owner’s religious beliefs. While the bill failed, supporters of this legislation also sought to place a measure on the November ballot that would have made it legal for businesses to deny services to LGBT persons based on the owner’s religious beliefs. The measure never reached the ballot, and the survey shows it would not have received support from most small employers: more than 6 in 10 (61 percent) say they would oppose a ballot initiative allowing this type of discrimination, with more than half (51 percent) strongly opposing it.

Additionally, small business owners expressed trepidation about the impact that this initiative would have on Colorado’s business climate. In fact, nearly 6 in 10 respondents (59 percent) say that an initiative like this would hurt the business climate in Colorado.

“The topic of religious freedom and how it relates to business practices has been front and center in the media lately. And as usual, small businesses are in the middle of the debate,” said David Chase, VP of National Outreach for Small Business Majority. “As these results make clear, our state’s biggest job creators support policies that are fair and inclusive to all customers and employees.”

It’s important to note that this research primarily polled mom-and-pop businesses, with 71 percent of respondents owning businesses with 10 or fewer full-time employees, and more than a quarter (26 percent) in the restaurant, retail and retail services industries. Additionally, respondents represented an array of political ideologies, with 44 percent identifying as Republican or Republican-leaning, 31 percent identifying as Democrat or Democrat-leaning, 18 percent as pure independent and 8 percent as other.

This poll reflects a combined Internet and telephone survey of 400 Colorado small business owners. It has a margin of error of +/- 5 percent.

For the full report, please visit:

About Small Business Majority
Small Business Majority was founded and is run by small business owners to focus on solving the biggest problems facing small businesses today. Since 2005, we have actively engaged small business owners and policymakers in support of public policy solutions, and have delivered information and resources to entrepreneurs that promote small business growth and drive a strong economy. We regularly engage our network of 55,000 small business owners along with a formal strategic partnership program of more than 150 business organizations, enabling us to reach more than 500,000 entrepreneurs. 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, including access to capital, taxes, healthcare, retirement, entrepreneurship and workforce development. Learn more about us on our website and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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