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May 23, 2019

Most Americans are in favor of laws protecting the LGBT community, study shows — but overall support has dropped

March 14, 2019
Rainbow-colored lights shine on the White House to celebrate today’s US Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage June 26, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

Nearly seven in ten Americans want to see laws protecting the LGBT population from discrimination, but a larger trend shows a decline in overall support.

Results from a survey released by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) Tuesday shows that 69% of Americans favor legislation to increase protections against LGBT discrimination in three areas: workplace, housing and public spaces.

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Support is seen across party lines, ideologies and religious affiliations — but other outcomes are less promising.

Researchers with PRRI, which is a nonprofit organization that researches the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy, asked participants the same question in 2015, 2017, and 2018:

Do you a) strongly favor, b) favor, c) oppose, or d) strongly oppose laws that would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing?

The percentage of those in favor dropped from 71% in 2015, to 70% in 2017, to 69% in 2018. The change among Republicans was even more pronounced, falling five percentage points.

“Discrimination is a real and persistent problem for LGBTQ Americans,” the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said in a statement, noting that nearly two-thirds of self-identified LGBTQ Americans report experiencing some form of discrimination. “Currently, 50% of LGBTQ Americans live in the 30 states that still lack statewide legal non-discrimination protections, leaving their residents and visitors at risk of being fired, denied housing, or refused service because of who they are or whom they love.”

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi returned to her position of presiding officer of the U.S. in early January, she vowed to bring to Equality Act to the floor for a vote. The legislation, which would amend existing civil rights law to include sexual orientation and gender identity, has been introduced twice before, but died before getting to a vote.

The bill was finally introduced Wednesday, and it counts with bipartisan support, Pelosi said.

HRC President Chad Griffin is hopeful about its passing. Now that Congress has a pro-equality majority, “it has the chance to finally ensure LGBTQ people’s rights are not determined by what side of a city or state line they live on,” he said. “Now is the time to pass the bipartisan Equality Act.”

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