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

Small business owners in North Carolina 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

Raleigh, North Carolina—A scientific opinion poll released today found North Carolina 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 59 percent of small business owners in North Carolina believe business owners should not be permitted to deny goods or services to LGBT persons based on an owner’s religious beliefs, and half say they oppose denying goods or services for a same-sex wedding on religious grounds.

Additionally, 48 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, compared to 32 percent who feel a business owner should be allowed to deny services for this reason. This sentiment grows when it comes to wedding-related services: 59 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 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.

“Discriminating against LGBT employees or customers is just bad business,” says Jamie Fiocco, owner of Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill. “Having a nondiscrimination policy, as Flyleaf Books does, and making it publicly known helps both employees and customers know that our store is a welcoming place to be and to be yourself. And our nondiscrimination policy definitely positively impacts our bottom line. When the business and employees are positive forces and customers know they can come and be comfortable, they are more willing to give you their business.”

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 6 in 10 respondents (58 percent) believe enacting such a law in North Carolina would hurt the business climate.

Small business owners also support furthering protections for LGBT individuals. Roughly 6 in 10 small business owners (59 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 half of small business owners (50 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 Erik Rettig, Mid-Atlantic Director for Small Business Majority. “It should come as no surprise then that the vast majority of North Carolina’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 North Carolina 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 111 small business owners in North Carolina. The national survey has a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent and the state survey has a margin of error of +/- 9.5 percent.

For the full poll report, please visit: http://smallbusinessmajority.org/sites/default/files/research-reports/111617-NC-Small-Business-Non-Discrimination-Poll.pdf

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