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LGBT Nondiscrimination Protections: Popular but Not Widely Adopted
PRRI Staff,
03.18.2019
Topics: LGBT

Last week, members of Congress reintroduced the Equality Act to extend and broaden federal nondiscrimination protections to the LGBT community. A new PRRI survey shows nearly seven in 10 Americans support making nondiscrimination laws LGBT-inclusive, including majorities in all 50 states. Despite strong support, nationally and the state level, only 34 states and Washington D.C.[1] have passed some type of legislation protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people from discrimination.

Residents in states with no nondiscrimination law for LGBT residents also support LGBT protections at an average lower than the national average of 69 percent. Of the 16 states that don’t have laws protecting against discrimination for sexual orientation and/or gender identity, only North Dakota has support higher than the national average (72 percent). In 11 states with nondiscrimination laws, residents support LGBT protection below the national average. However, 7 of these states have support at 68 percent.

The states expressing the highest levels of support for nondiscrimination laws, which tend to be clustered in New England, include New Hampshire (81 percent), Vermont (77 percent), and Massachusetts (75 percent), which was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2003. Notably, Utah stands out for its strong support for nondiscrimination laws for LGBT residents—especially considering that only about half (54 percent) of residents favor same-sex marriage[2], and fewer than half (48 percent) oppose religiously based service refusals for gay and lesbian people. In 2015, Utah’s legislature passed a law, backed by the Mormon church, that banned discrimination against LGBT individuals in employment and housing. Today, eight in ten (77 percent) residents of Utah support legal nondiscrimination protections for LGBT individuals.

[1] 34 states and Washington D.C have passed some type of law protecting LGBT people from discrimination (either in employment, housing, public accommodations, credit, and/or state employment). These are states that have laws that cover sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Source: Movement Advancement Project (MAP).

[2] Source: PRRI 2017 American Values Atlas.