Scientific Opinion Poll: Michigan Small Business Owners Think LGBT Discrimination is Bad for Business

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, November 16, 2017

Small business owners in Michigan oppose denying goods or services to LGBT customers based on religious beliefs and freedom of speech, and believe state laws allowing for LGBT discrimination are bad for the business climate

Lansing, Michigan—A scientific opinion poll released today found Michigan entrepreneurs strongly believe business owners should not be able to deny goods and services to LGBT customers based on their religious beliefs or because of their right to free speech or free artistic expression, and that nondiscrimination policies are good for their bottom line.

The survey, conducted by Chesapeake Beach Consulting on behalf of Small Business Majority, found 69 percent of small business owners in Michigan 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, two-thirds say they oppose denying goods or services for a same-sex wedding on religious grounds.

Additionally, 60 percent of small business owners believe a business owner should not be allowed to deny services to a customer because the owner believes that doing so violates their right to free speech. Sixty-four percent don’t think a business owner should be able to deny services related to a wedding for a same-sex couple because the owner believes it violates their right to free speech. Similarly, 55 percent of small business owners don’t believe that a business owner should be able to claim an exemption to nondiscrimination laws if they believe serving a customer goes against their right to free artistic expression.

"Having a nondiscrimination policy in the workplace is very important for our business, especially for employees who wear a uniform, like many of our security guards do,” says Paula Paschal, owner of Paschal Security Systems, LLC in Lansing. “People can be wary of someone in uniform, and adding a discriminatory element can completely discredit the work of our business. Promoting an inclusive workplace also ensures employees feel valued and aids in employee retention. And ensuring our security members treat people fairly, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity (or any other reason), helps in maintaining respectful interactions with clients, which means they will likely continue to use us as their security vendor of choice.”

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. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63 percent) believe enacting such a law in Michigan would hurt the business climate.

Small business owners also support furthering protections for LGBT individuals. 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 (56 percent) agree that nondiscrimination laws actually improve their bottom lines by attracting the most talented employees, regardless of whether the employee is LGBT.

“States that have enacted laws allowing business owners to refuse service to LGBT customers have faced serious economic backlash,” said Lindsay Mueller, Midwest Director for Small Business Majority. “It should come as no surprise then that the vast majority of Michigan’s job creators oppose allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers because they believe that doing so is bad for the local business climate and for their business’s bottom line. Lawmakers in Michigan and in Washington must understand what small business owners already know—there is a real monetary cost to LGBT discrimination.”

The poll reflects a national survey of 500 small business owners with 1-100 employees, with an oversample of 115 small business owners in Michigan. The national survey has a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent and the state survey has a margin of error of +/- 9.3 percent.

For the full poll report, please visit:


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.

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