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Apr 28, 2015

(ELON POLL) Vast Majority of NC Opposes RFRA

Elon, N.C. —Nearly two-thirds of North Carolina registered voters don’t think businesses should be able to refuse services to people who are gay or lesbian, regardless of a business owner’s religious beliefs, according to the latest Elon University Poll.

According to a release from Elon Polling, 63 percent of registered voters disagree with a “religious freedom” law that would allow such refusal, with the greatest disapproval coming among young people, women and Democrats. More than half of Republicans (51 percent) in the state agree that businesses should have that right.

"The latest Elon University Poll comes as state lawmakers withdraw a bill that would have given such rights to business owners. North Carolina’s legislation was similar to efforts in Indiana and Arkansas this spring that drew heavy criticism from across the nation, leading politicians in both states to immediately amend the law they had just passed (Indiana) or revise legislation before it would be signed by the governor (Arkansas.)

African-American North Carolinians (20 percent) were the least likely to agree that businesses should be able to deny services based on religious grounds, compared to 36 percent of whites. Twenty-eight percent of registered voters didn’t know how they felt on the question."

Equality NC, the state’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization, immediately responded to the poll with Executive Director Chris Sgro calling the results “a strong message" against codifying discrimination in the name of religion.

"Businesses that are open to the public should be open to everyone on the same terms, including to customers who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender,” said Sgro. “This latest poll sends a strong message to our state leaders that no one should have a license to discriminate against North Carolina's LGBT community.”

Many are surprised to learn that North Carolina and 27 other states have no comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people.

Sgro added, "Instead of focusing energy on discriminatory, distracting and potentially dangerous legislation, it is long past time our state's leaders updated North Carolina's laws to ensure that no one is denied housing, turned away from a business, or fired from a job simply because of who they are or who they love."

Equality NC has endorsed legislation proposed this session in both chambers (HB443/SB612) that would protect North Carolina’s LGBT workers from discrimination.

Elon's live-caller, dual frame (landline and cell phone) survey of 756 North Carolina residents from April 20-24, 2015, has a margin of error of 3.56 percentage points. Of that number, 677 respondents said they were registered to vote, for a margin of error is 3.77 percentage points.

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