Scientific Opinion Poll: Ohio Small Business Owners Think LGBT Discrimination is Bad for Business

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, November 16, 2017

Small business owners in Ohio oppose denying goods or services to LGBT customers based on religious beliefs and freedom of speech, and believe state laws allowing for LGBT discrimination are bad for the business climate

Columbus, Ohio—A scientific opinion poll released today found Ohio entrepreneurs strongly believe business owners should not be able to deny goods and services to LGBT customers based on their religious beliefs or because of their right to free speech or free artistic expression, and that nondiscrimination policies are good for their bottom line.

The survey, conducted by Chesapeake Beach Consulting on behalf of Small Business Majority, found 70 percent of small business owners in Ohio believe business owners should not be permitted to deny goods or services to LGBT persons based on an owner’s religious beliefs. What’s more, 54 percent say they oppose denying goods or services for a same-sex wedding on religious grounds.

Additionally, 52 percent of small business owners believe a business owner should not be allowed to deny services to a customer because the owner believes that doing so violates their right to free speech, compared to 29 percent who feel a business owner should be allowed to deny services for this reason. This sentiment grows when it comes to wedding-related services: 65 percent don’t think a business owner should be able to deny services related to a wedding for a same-sex couple because the owner believes it violates their right to free speech. Similarly, 56 percent of small business owners don’t believe that a business owner should be able to claim an exemption to nondiscrimination laws if they believe serving a customer goes against their right to free artistic expression.

"Wolf's Ridge Brewing is an inclusive brewery and restaurant and prides itself on being so. We would never turn someone away due to ‘religious freedom’ or ‘freedom of speech,’ because it would do nothing positive for our business if we try to pick and choose our customers,” says Bob Szuter, owner of Wolf’s Ridge Brewing in Columbus. “That’s why we have a nondiscrimination policy in place that protects our employees as well, which gives the staff confidence they can be who we hired them to be, themselves. Everyone knows that Wolf's Ridge respects them, which has helped us retain employees. When employees know they are valued, they help our organization to grow and thrive."

Small business owners were also asked about legislation considered in several states that would allow business owners to deny goods or services to LGBT customers based on their religious beliefs. A majority (52 percent) believe enacting such a law in Ohio would hurt the business climate, as opposed to a mere 7 percent who think it would help the business climate.

Small business owners also support furthering protections for LGBT individuals. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) believe employers should not be able to fire or refuse to hire someone who is gay or transgender based on the employer’s religious beliefs, and a majority of small business owners (51 percent) agree that nondiscrimination laws actually improve their bottom lines by attracting the most talented employees, regardless of whether the employee is LGBT.

“States that have enacted laws allowing business owners to refuse service to LGBT customers have faced serious economic backlash,” said Michaela Hahn Burriss, Ohio Outreach Manager for Small Business Majority. “It should come as no surprise then that the vast majority of Ohio’s job creators oppose allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers because they believe that doing so is bad for the local business climate and for their business’s bottom line. Lawmakers in Ohio and in Washington must understand what small business owners already know—there is a real monetary cost to LGBT discrimination.”

The poll reflects a national survey of 500 small business owners with 1-100 employees, with an oversample of 112 small business owners in Ohio. The national survey has a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent and the state survey has a margin of error of +/- 9.5 percent.

For the full poll report, please visit:


About Small Business Majority

Small Business Majority was founded and is run by small business owners to ensure America’s entrepreneurs are a key part of an inclusive, equitable and diverse economy. We actively engage our network of more than 55,000 small business owners in support of public policy solutions and deliver information and resources to entrepreneurs that promote small business growth. Our extensive scientific polling, focus groups and economic research help us educate and inform policymakers, the media and other stakeholders about key issues impacting small businesses and freelancers. Learn more about us on our website and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.



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