Talk about trying to put the genie back into the bottle: in an exclusive interview with ThinkProgress’s Scott Keyes, notoriously bigoted Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King said that he doesn’t have a problem with someone being fired by their employer on the basis of sexual orientation. No, King’s problem is that the employee allowed their sexual orientation to become known in the first place. In other words, as David Badash points out, King essentially thinks lesbians and gays should have to pretend to be straight at work if they want to keep their jobs — a de facto “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the workplace.
From Keyes’s article:
ThinkProgress spoke with the Iowa congressman Monday about whether it should be legal for businesses to discriminate in their hiring and firing decisions. King said that “they shouldn’t be able to do that [to] a private business” because “they need to have freedom to operate.”
We asked if this meant that he opposed the idea of forbidding businesses from firing an employee because of her sexual orientation. “How do you know someone’s sexual orientation?” he countered, before proposing an idea similar to the recently repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding gays in the military. “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.”
KEYES: Would that encompass, for instance, the government being able to tell businesses who they can hire and fire?
KING: Yeah, they shouldn’t be able to do that [to] a private business.
KEYES: Even if those were to be regulations say on a matter of sexual orientation or gender or other stuff like that?
KING: How do you know someone’s sexual orientation? I don’t know how you discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation. That’s their business.
KEYES: I guess if it became public knowledge that an employee were lesbian or gay.
KING: You have private sector businesses here and they need to have freedom to operate. 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.
Badash also notes that this is the same Steve King who has no problem with government telling same-sex couples that they’re not allowed to marry, or telling women exactly which personal reproductive decisions they are and are not allowed to make for themselves. Just in case that’s not quite enough galling hypocrisy, Rep. King also shouted “Keep your law off my body!” at an anti-health reform Tea Party rally on the steps of the Supreme Court building last week. (I presume that when King says “my body,” he’s really only referring to straight white males. You know, people like him. . .)
Memo to Rep. King: While it may still be legal in 29 states to fire someone for being gay (and legal to fire someone for being transgender in 35 states), the battle for LGBT civil rights is well underway across the country — even in those states where workplace discrimination is, for now, the law of the land. You won’t be able to force us back into the silence and shame of the closet. Not in our communities, not in our schools, not in our churches, and not in our workplaces. This isn’t the 1950s. The genie is out of the bottle.
h/t: David Badash. Duh.