By Anna Jaffray
A staunch advocate of small government and opponent of gay marriage, GOP Representative Steven King gave an interview saying LGBT employees should keep quiet about their sexuality in the workplace.
“In the first place, I would think that unless someone makes their sexuality public, it’s not anybody’s business, so neither is it our business to tell an employer who to hire. He won’t know who to discriminate against in the first place,” said King in an interview.
While saying that employers had no right to discriminate against gays in the workplace as long as those employees remained silent about their orientation, when asked “what if the information became public?” he avoided the question.
In 2010, King made similar comments during a discussion with the Family Research Council on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act – legislation made to prohibit discrimination against homosexuality and gender identity.
King called the legislation, “…a violation of the individual rights of employers to, at their own discretion, decide who they want to hire, who they want to fire. We do not need more federal mandates and we surely don‘t need a political statement…this is the homosexual activist lobby taking it out on the rest of society, and they are demanding affirmation for their lifestyle.”
Elizabeth Kristen, Director of the Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program at the Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center said in an interview, “This turns civil rights on its head…what’s to say you won’t go to some other characteristic, such as religion or disabilities.”
According to Kristen, such hateful speech towards the LGBT community creates a slippery slope of discrimination against other groups, thereby potentially negating the important protections provided by mandates such as the American Disabilities Act.
She goes on to say that, “Representative King’s comments outrageously blame the victim of employment discrimination if he or she is fired from a job because of sexual orientation discrimination. First of all not everyone who loses their job because of anti-gay discrimination was out in the workplace.
“Second we have repealed don’t ask don’t tell in the military, we should not bring back that wrong headed policy for civilian employees. Finally gay and lesbians should have the right to hold jobs free from discrimination and the right to come out and be proud of who we are–important and valuable contributing members of our society. As Harvey Milk said, ‘Burst down those closet doors once and for all, and stand up and start to fight.’”