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Scientific Opinion Poll Shows Pennsylvaniaʼs Small Businesses Strongly Support Employment Non-Discrimination Laws to Protect Gay and Transgender Workers

Harrisburg — A scientific opinion poll released today by Small Business Majority shows that 68 percent of small business owners in Pennsylvania believe federal law should prohibit employment discrimination against gay and transgender people. The vast majority of entrepreneurs (68 percent) also support a state law prohibiting discrimination — such as SB/HB300, the Pennsylvania Non-discrimination Act, which was introduced in the General Assembly in May.

“The results of this poll underscore the overwhelming statewide support for recently introduced legislation protecting gay and transgender people from discrimination,” said Ted Martin, executive director of Equality Pennsylvania. “Small business owners and the vast majority of Pennsylvanians agree: treating people fairly and equally is simply the right thing to do.”

The poll, conducted April 8-17, 2013 by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, also found that the vast majority of small business owners already thought laws existed to protect gay andtransgender people. In terms of federal law, a striking 84 percent of entrepreneurs thought it was illegal to make employment decisions based on oneʼs sexual orientation or gender identity. In terms of state law, 78 percent of small business owners believed it was illegal to fire or refuse to hire someone because they are gay or transgender.

Small business owners believe laws protecting gay and transgender workers should apply even to those with religious beliefs. Six in 10 small business owners (62 percent) believe an employer should not be able to fire or refuse to hire someone who is gay or transgender based on their (the employer’s) religious beliefs. Whatʼs more, 71 percent believe a business should not be legally allowed to refuse services to some customers but not others based on religious beliefs.

This commitment to treating all employees fairly stems, in part, from respondentsʼ business savvy. Fifty-six percent of entrepreneurs agree laws protecting employees from discrimination help boost bottom lines because they enable employers to attract the best and the brightest. One-third of small businesses surveyed have a policy protecting gay and transgender employees, and four in 10 say their policy improves their ability to attract and retain talented employees. Additionally, entrepreneurs strongly believe implementing a nondiscrimination policy is the right thing to do. Of employers who have a nondiscrimination policy, 79% say itʼs because they believe all employees should be treated fairly and equally, and 75% say they have it because itʼs the right thing to do.

“Small business owners know what it takes to succeed: work hard, and attract the best and brightest talent to grow the bottom line. Thatʼs why the overwhelming majority of small business owners support common-sense laws that protect all Pennsylvanians, including gay and transgender workers, from discrimination,” said Martin.

Pennsylvania small business owners donʼt simply support laws that protect gay and transgender people from discrimination — they also oppose laws that treat same-sex couples unequally.

  • Sixty-three percent of small employers oppose the current federal law permitting employers to offer family benefits to married heterosexual couples while denying those benefits to married same-sex couples.
  • Two-thirds (66 percent) of Pennsylvania owners oppose the federal law prohibiting lesbian and gay workersʼ spouses from being provided with the Social Security benefits that are extended to heterosexual spouses.
  • A 59% majority of entrepreneurs believe the federal Family and Medical Leave Act should provide unpaid leave for gay and lesbian employees, like it does for heterosexual workers.
  • Sixty-five percent of those surveyed agree that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act hurts businesses by requiring them to treat their employees differently and to administer two systems of benefits.

“Small business owners are the heart of Pennsylvaniaʼs economy. Our support for legislation protecting gay and transgender workers from discrimination should cause our lawmakers to stand up and take notice. When the businesses that fuel our economic growth voice this level of support, legislators should act,” said Ben Allatt, Vice President of JFC Medical, a small business based in Central Pennsylvania.

Poll respondents were politically diverse with 42 percent of identifying themselves as Republican or independent-leaning Republican, 32 percent as Democrat or independent-leaning Democrat, and 11 percent as independent.

Full Pennsylvania poll results

For the full report visit:

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