Small Businesses Support LGBT Workplace Protections

Our guest blogger is Crosby Burns, special assistant for the LGBT Research and Communications Project at American Progress.

Earlier this year, the Center for American Progress (CAP) revealed that a majority of likely voters support federal laws such as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which would prohibit public and private employment discrimination against LGBT workers. Poll results released today from CAP show that small business owners are similarly supportive of workplace fairness.

This poll shows that 63 percent of small businesses owners support ENDA, while only 15 percent of small businesses oppose it. This acceptance from the small business community mirrors the public’s support for ENDA more broadly. CAP has found that 73 percent of likely 2012 voters support legislation to combat LGBT discrimination in the workplace, including a majority of self-identified independent and Republican voters.

The need for this law is immediate. LGBT Americans continue to face high rates of discrimination at all levels of employment. Forty-two percent of gay Americans have experienced at least one form of employment discrimination and harassment in the workplace, and an astonishing 90 percent of transgender individuals reported experiencing some form of harassment, mistreatment, or discrimination on the job, or took actions like hiding who they are to avoid it.

While support from the public and from small business owners portends well for ENDA, 89 percent of likely voters erroneously believe that LGBT Americans already have federal employment protections as do 89 percent of small business owners. More must be done to highlight the lack of legal protections afforded to LGBT Americans.

ENDA has recently been introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. With likely voters and small businesses exhibiting strong support for workplace fairness, ENDA should be a no-brainer for our policymakers. Congress should pass this law, and pass it immediately.