Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) told ThinkProgress last week that he believes someone should be able to be fired for his or her sexual orientation.
In a conversation on Capitol Hill, Lankford expressed his strong belief that being gay is a choice, and that LGBT workers should not be protected from workplace discrimination because it’s something they can change. “You don’t walk up to someone on the street and look at them and say, ‘gay or straight?'” Lankford said:
STRASSER: Would you support a law that says you can’t fire someone for their sexual orientation —
KEYES: Similar to protections for people on race or gender?
LANKFORD: Well, you’re now dealing with behavior and I’m trying to figure out exactly what you’re trying to mean by that. Because you’re dealing with — race and sexual preferences are two different things. One is a behavior-related and preference-related and one is something inherently — skin color, something obvious, that kind of stuff. You don’t walk up to someone on the street and look at them and say, “Gay or straight?”
KEYES: But you think that even if you can’t see they’re that way, you don’t think someone is born gay necessarily?
LANKFORD: Do I personally? No. I don’t. I think it’s a choice issue. Are tendencies and such? Yes. But I think it’s a choice issue.
Being gay is actually not a choice, according to the American Medical Association, the American Association of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, and all other accredited medical organizations. A large percentage of LGBT workers have experienced discrimination at work and many have been fired because of their sexual orientation.
Though Lankford will surely vote against it, a bipartisan group of senators released a letter last week calling on Congress to hold hearings about putting a non-discrimination law in place. The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee will take up the issue later this month.