ThinkProgress spoke with the Florida Senator at the opening luncheon of the annual Faith and Freedom Forum on Thursday and asked him about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill to make discrimination against LGBT individuals illegal across the country.
Though Rubio bristles at the notion of being called a “bigot,” he showed no willingness to help protect LGBT workers from discrimination. “I’m not for any special protections based on orientation,” Rubio told ThinkProgress.
KEYES: The Senate this summer is going to be taking up the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which makes it illegal to fire someone for being gay. Do you know if you’ll be supporting that?
RUBIO: I haven’t read the legislation. By and large I think all Americans should be protected but I’m not for any special protections based on orientation.
KEYES: What about on race or gender?
RUBIO: Well that’s established law.
KEYES: But not for sexual orientation?
Workplace discrimination is an all-too-frequent reality for LGBT individuals. Two out of every five openly lesbian, gay, or bisexual employees have reported discrimination at their jobs. Among transgender workers, that figure rises to nine out of ten.
Though other Republicans have applauded Rubio’s so-called “middle ground” on LGBT issues, his record of late tells a far different story. In addition to opposing ENDA and marriage equality, Rubio also said today that he would walk away from his own immigration bill if it includes protections for gay couples.
Currently, 29 states have no laws protecting gay and lesbian workers from discrimination in the workplace, and an additional five states don’t protect workers based on gender identity. And yet nine in ten Americans mistakenly believe that it is illegal to fire someone for being gay.
LGBT workers aren’t asking for “special protections,” as Rubio would have people believe. They’re asking to be treated like everyone else and be allowed to do their job without fear of being harassed or fired for who they are.