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Americans Show Broad Support for LGBT Nondiscrimination Protections
Daniel Greenberg, Emma Beyer, Maxine Najle, Ph.D., Oyindamola Bola, Robert P. Jones, Ph.D.,
Topics: LGBTQ
Tags: LGBT

Across Lines of Party, Demographics, and Geography, Americans Broadly Support Nondiscrimination Protections for LGBT People

Amid our currently polarized political climate, a new PRRI survey shows that majorities of Americans across virtually all demographic groups and geographical locations support laws protecting LGBT people.

Americans remain supportive of broad nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Nearly seven in ten (69%) Americans favor laws that would protect LGBT people from discrimination in the job market, public accommodations, and housing.

Support by Age Group

Younger Americans are 17 percentage points more likely than older Americans to say they support laws protecting LGBT people from various forms of discrimination. More than three-quarters (76%) of younger Americans (ages 18-29) favor such laws, compared to (59%) of seniors (ages 65 and older).

Support by Political Party and Ideology

Support for nondiscrimination protections enjoys broad support across the political spectrum. Majorities of Democrats (79%), independents (70%), and Republicans (56%) say they favor laws that would shield LGBT people from various kinds of discrimination. While support among Democrats and independents has remained relatively constant, Republican support for these provisions has fallen five percentage points over the past few years, down from (61%)  in 2015.

Majorities of liberals (81%), moderates (76%), and conservatives (55%) all favor nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.

Ideological differences are more pronounced among Democrats and independents than among Republicans. The biggest intra-party divide is among Democrats: Liberal Democrats (87%) are likelier than moderate (76%) and conservative (61%) Democrats to favor nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBT people. Liberal (79%) and moderate (78%) independents are also likelier than conservative independents (58%) to support nondiscrimination protections.

Notably, self-identified moderate Republicans (69%) are likelier than self-identified liberal Republicans (59%) or conservative Republicans (53%) to favor laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination. Conservative Democrats (61%) are about as likely as liberal Republicans (59%) to favor nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.

Support by Religious Affiliation

Majorities of all religious groups favor state laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination in jobs, housing, and public accommodations.

Solid majorities of all major religious groups in the U.S. support laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination in housing, public accommodations, and the workplace. More than three-quarters of Americans who identify with New Age religions (86%), Jews (80%), Hindus (79%), religiously unaffiliated Americans (78%), and Buddhists (75%) support these protections. Similarly, robust majorities of Mormons (70%), Hispanic Catholics (72%), white mainline Protestants (71%), white Catholics (71%), other non-white Catholics (68%), and Americans who identify with other religions (67%) favor LGBT nondiscrimination protections, along with majorities of black Protestants (65%), other non-white Protestants (61%), Muslims (60%), Hispanic Protestants (60%), and Orthodox Christians (59%).

White evangelical Protestants (54%) and Jehovah’s Witnesses (53%) are least likely to support LGBT nondiscrimination protections, but even among these groups support remains in majority territory.


Support by Region and State

Majorities of residents in all regions of the U.S. and all 50 states support non-discrimination protections for LGBT Americans. However, residents of New England states express the most robust support for laws designed to protect LGBT people from discrimination. At least three-quarters of the residents of New Hampshire (81%), Vermont (77%), Connecticut (76%), Massachusetts (75%), and Rhode Island (73%) favor nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Americans.

States in the West also demonstrate high levels of support for nondiscrimination protections for LGBT individuals. More than seven in ten residents of several Western states—including Washington (75%), California (73%), New Mexico (73%), Colorado (72%), and Oregon (72%)—favor laws that would protect LGBT Americans from discrimination.

Conversely, states with the lowest levels of support are primarily located in the South, where about six in ten residents of West Virginia (63%), Oklahoma (62%), Mississippi (59%), Kentucky (59%), Alabama (59%), South Carolina (58%), and Arkansas (56%) say LGBT people should be legally protected from discrimination.

As LGBT issues continue to take center stage in American political discussion, support for federal nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people is one of the issues on which people agree across lines of party, religion, demographics, and region.

A fuller report on this question and an analysis of questions on religious refusals to serve LGBT people and same-sex marriage will be released by the end of March.

Trends over the year for this question can be found here.

Explore previously released AVA data here.

[1] Source: PRRI 2011 LGBT Survey.