An overwhelming majority of likely voters support President Obama signing an executive order banning federal contractors from anti-LGBT discrimination.
A new poll put out by HRC shows overwhelming support for this kind of executive order. 73 percent of 2012 likely voters favor such an order and support remains strong regardless of age, race, education, political ideology, and a number of other demographics.
When asked: “As you may know, under current federal law and in many states, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are NOT protected from discrimination in the work place. Would you support or oppose a policy that required companies that do business with the federal government to not discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people in employment?” 73 percent said they supported the policy, 9 percent opposed the policy and 9 percent were unsure.
The poll showed that the breadth of support crossed religious, racial and economic lines, as well as crossing barriers like age and level of education.
Among self-identifying Democrats 86% favor the move, only 10% oppose; 70% of Independents are in favor while 22% oppose; and 61% of Republicans approve while 22% oppose, though Republicans had the largest “Don’t Know” response at 15% compared to 4% and 9% for Democrats and Independents respectively.
In terms of gender, 70% of men favor the move compared to 75% of women.
In terms of level of education, college educated and non-college educated support was the same at 73% approval and 18% against.
Age divides show a surprising blip in usual trends, actually demonstrating that support among 18-29 year-olds at 69% is lower than among the 65+ category who came out strongly in favor at 75%. The youngest age bracket also had the highest level of opposition at 27%.
In terms of race and ethnicity divides, support for a nondiscrimination executive order among white voters polled at 72%. This compares to 80% among black voters, and 72% among Hispanic voters.
Where religious divides are concerned, those with no religion whatsoever were most likely to support the order at 85%. However, support was very high across the board, with 68% of Protestants, 77% Catholics, 64% of Born Again Christians, and 77% of Christians not identifying as “born again” all supporting the measure.
In terms of support based on housing environment, 76% of big city residents supported the move while 73% of rural residents were in favor. Among suburban voters support was strong at 76% and they had the lowest score of opposition (11% compared to 18% for both big city and rural residents), though they also had the highest indecision at 13%.
The poll did throw some light on one key problem: that many voters were unaware that federal law does not already ban discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. A staggering 87 percent thought that current law already protected people from being fired solely because they are gay.
The national survey of 800 likely voters was conducted for HRC by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research from November 9 – 13, 2011, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46 percentage points.
Precedent for this kind of executive order comes from the Johnson administration which created a standing provision that government contractors are barred from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
This order would not be suitable as a replacement for Congressional action like passing the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) as it would not roll out national coverage and would only apply to federal contractors, but it would be a benchmark-setting interim measure.
The Obama administration has been rumored to have the order pending with the Justice Department having cleared it as both lawful and viable.
This has left advocates wondering what precisely the Obama administration is waiting for.