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Ending employment discrimination
based on sexual orientation

Public opinion polls: 1995-2001

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Support for employment protection based on sexual orientation:

Polls have consistently shown that American adults support equal employment protection for persons of all sexual orientations, from the mid 1990s to now:

bullet 1995: A poll by Newsweek magazine taken among actual voters showed that 84% supported equal rights for gays and lesbians in the workplace.
bullet 1996-MAY: A Newsweek poll showed that 84% of American adults supported equal protections in employment for gays and lesbians.
bullet 1996-JUN: An American public opinion poll was taken in by ICR Survey Research Group of Media, PA. The margin of error is ~+mn~3 percentage points.
bullet Same-sex marriage:
bullet Overall results: 57% opposed; 30% in favor
bullet Females responded: 49% opposed
bullet Persons under 35: 47% opposed; 47% in favor
bullet Equal job opportunities: 10% opposed; 85% in favor (vs. 16 to 76% in 1992)
bullet Exclude gays totally from the military: 15% in favor of a ban
bullet Allow openly gay or lesbian persons into the military 37% opposed; 40% in favor.
bullet 1996-JUN: A poll by the Associated Press showed that 85% of adults are in favor of federal legislation to give equal protection in employment to gays and lesbians.
bullet 1996-NOV: Greenberg Research Inc. conducted a national survey of 1,007 voters at election time on 1996-NOV-5 to 8. They found that:
bullet Among Christians generally, 70% believe that gays and lesbians should be protected from discrimination in the workplace; 23% do not.
bullet Among fundamentalist and other evangelical Christians, 60% are in favor of protection while 34% do not.

The poll's margin of error is ?3.1 percentage points.

bullet 1997-APR: A public opinion poll was conducted during 1997-APR 8 to 10 by the Tarrance Group and Lake Sosin Snell & Associates. They asked American adults whether they supported a Federal law to "prevent job discrimination against gays and lesbians." Results showed that ENDA has 68% support nationally, 77% in the Northeast, 71% in the Midwest, 68% in the West, and 62% in the South. It is supported by 79% of Democrats, 69% of independents, and 59% of Republicans. Only about 15% of adults are "strongly opposed."

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bullet 1997-OCT: Oliver Thomas of the National Council of Churches and Herbert Valentine of the Presbyterian Church (USA) were scheduled to talk in support of ENDA before the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee. A procedural move prevented them from being heard. Will Dodson, director of public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission said that he:

 "walked away from the hearing both sad and angry...I walked away angry because there were actually church leaders who were there to support the bill. As Christians, our response to this issue should be to love the sinner and hate the sin. It is infuriating to hear church leaders suggest that we are showing love for the sinner by accepting his sinful behavior. Christians ought to be helping them to escape a sinful, harmful lifestyle. I can understand how those without Christ would defend their lifestyle. However, it is inexcusable that Christians would defend lifestyles which are contrary to Scripture." 1

Dodson appears to have been misinformed. Thomas and Valentine were not at the Senate committee to promote, accept or defend homosexuals. They were trying to give them job security.

bullet 1998-JUL-31: A public opinion poll with a margin of error of 4% was conducted by the Princeton Survey Research Associates for Newsweek magazine on 1998-JUL-30 & 31. It found that 83% of the general population felt that gays and lesbians deserve equal rights in obtaining jobs. Legislators will ignore these poll data at their peril.
bullet 2001-JUN: Gallup Organization: They asked American adults "In general, do you think homosexuals should or should not have equal rights in terms of opportunities?" This is a particularly useful poll because Gallup has repeated the same poll eight times between 1977 and 2001. The 2001 poll showed that 85% favored equal opportunities; 11% felt that employers should be free to discriminate against gays and lesbians; 4% were undecided or didn't answer. 2

Year % preferring
equal treatment
% favoring
No answer/
Don't know
1977 56% 33% 11%
1982 59% 28% 13%
1989 71% 18% 11%
1992 74% 18% 8%
1993 80% 14% 6%
1996 84% 12% 4%
1999 83% 13% 4%
2001 85% 11% 4%

Support reached 89% in a Gallup 2008 poll. This chart gives an excellent insight into the gradually increasing acceptance of equal rights for homosexuals within the American culture.

bullet 2001-JUN: Harris poll: This poll asked American adults whether they favored a federal law that actively prohibited employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. This is a double-barreled question because the only persons supporting such a law would be those who favored equality for persons of all sexual orientations, and who also favored federal involvement in the form of a law. Results were that 61% of Americans favored an ENDA law. In addition, 42% of the adults surveyed believed that this law already existed. 3

Additional information:

Many large companies have gone on record as supporting ENDA.

Winnie Stachelberg, legislative director of the Human Rights Campaign said

"Employment protections [for lesbian and gay workers] have really emerged as a mainstream, bipartisan issue."

In 1996-SEP, Matt Coles, director of the Lesbian and Gay Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union" stated:

"We are on the verge of passing legislation that will finally ensure fairness for all American workers, regardless of sexual orientation...While we have a lot of work ahead of us in the coming days, the momentum is clearly on our side."

He was wrong. The federal government continued to lag far behind public opinion throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

See also public opinion polls on the prevention of
employment discrimination against transgender persons.

References used in the above essay:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Tom Strode, "Church leaders endorse ENDA; SBC rep decries their defense" at:
  2. "Employment Non-Discrimination Act Quick Facts," Human Rights Campaign, at:
  3. Rev. Lou Sheldon & Andrea Lafferty "Dear Friend of TVC," Traditional Values Coalition, 2007-SEP-05, at:

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Home > "Hot" conflicts > Homosexuality > Employment > here

Copyright 1997 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-AUG-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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