This week during a conversation with Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), Rep. Steve King (R-IA) argued that employers discriminate against gay and lesbian people because “they wear their sexuality on their sleeve.” King told a pointless story of how his straight colleague, Iowa State Sen. Jerry Behn (R), would ask LGBT activists to guess his sexual orientation. In trying to make the point that sexual orientation shouldn’t be obvious, King bizarrely claimed the LGBT activists “should have known” Behn was straight:
KING: And he said, “let me ask you a question.” “Am I heterosexual or am I homosexual?” And they looked him up and down, actually they should have known, but they said, “We don’t know.” And he said, “Exactly, my point. If you don’t project it, if you don’t advertise it, how would anyone know to discriminate against you?” And that’s at the basis of this. So if people wear their sexuality on their sleeve and then they want to bring litigation against someone that they would point their finger at and say, “You discriminate.” …This is the homosexual lobby taking it out on the rest of society and they are demanding affirmation for their lifestyle, that’s at the bottom of this.
Of course, far from affirming “their lifestyle,” as King calls it, ENDA would simply prohibit public and private employers from using an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity “as the basis for employment decisions, such as hiring, firing, promotion or compensation.” As blogger Jeremy Hooper put it, “What the far-right refuses to admit is that ENDA protects everyone, not just LGBT people! Everyone has a sexual orientation. Everyone has a gender identity. Every employer, including LGBT ones, have the capacity to unfairly discriminate on the basis of gender/sexuality. So therefore, everyone benefits from a world where education and training and experience and viewpoints (which very well might include contrasting ideas about work related to causes, even LGBT/anti-LGBT ones) and merit are the qualities of job consideration.”