The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released the results of a new national survey yesterday, and the part of the poll on discrimination was of particular interest.
Americans strongly support laws that would protect gay and lesbian people from discrimination in the workplace. More than 7-in-10 (72%) Americans favor laws protecting gay and lesbian people from job discrimination, compared to less than one-quarter (23%) who oppose.Solid majorities of both political parties and every major religious group support workplace nondiscrimination laws for gay and lesbian people.
This doesn’t come as too big a surprise – employment discrimination isn’t exactly a popular idea in the American mainstream.
But here’s the kicker: “Three-quarters (75%) of Americans incorrectly believe it is currently illegal under federal law to fire or refuse to hire someone because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.”
This matters, of course, because three-quarters of the country is wrong.
Under federal law, employers can legally fire employees if they’re gay, or even if they think the employees are gay. Some states prohibit this kind of discrimination, but most don’t.
It’s why the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is pending in Congress – current law is incomplete. Employers can’t discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age, religion, national origin, disability, or genetic information, but ENDA is needed to extend protections to include sexual orientation and sexual identity.
No wonder the bill doesn’t get more attention – the vast majority of Americans don’t realize it’s needed.
Among the 75%, by the way, is House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who refuses to let the House vote up or down on ENDA. In November, the Republican leader said, “I am opposed to discrimination of any kind in the workplace or anyplace else, but I think this legislation … is unnecessary and would provide a basis for frivolous lawsuits. People are already protected in the workplace.”
Boehner, along with three-fourths of the country, is mistaken.