Congressman Says Gays Should Hide Their Orientation At Work

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"Congressman Says Gays Should Hide Their Orientation At Work"

Credit: Gage Skidmore

WASHINGTON, DC — Following a speech at an anti-IRS Tea Party rally in front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) seemed to blame gay and lesbian people for the discrimination they face in the workplace.

Asked about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a measure to prevent private employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, Gohmert claimed he hadn’t heard of the bill, but noted that employees shouldn’t discuss their sexual orientation in the workplace:

THINKPROGRESS: Where do you stand on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act?

GOHMERT: I’m not aware of exactly which one you’re talking about

THINKPROGRESS: It would protect LGBT workers from being fired due to their sexual orientation.

GOHMERT: Who wants to go talking about sexual orientation when they’re working? Good grief.

ENDA is similar to existing provisions in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Workplace discrimination is a major problem for LGBT individuals. Nearly 40 percent of openly lesbian, gay, or bisexual employees and 90 percent of transgender workers report feeling discrimination in employment.

ENDA picked up support Wednesday morning from its 51st co-sponsor, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). Forty-nine senate Democrats are joined by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Susan Collins (R-ME) as co-sponsors. Several top Republicans have expressed opposition to the bill last week, including Sens. Marco Rubio (FL) and Ron Johnson (WI).

A Congressional committee is expected to markup on ENDA after the July 4th recess.

Joseph Diebold is an intern with ThinkProgress.

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