It is not uncommon to believe that someone shouldn’t be fired for their sexual orientation — in fact, ninety percent of voters mistakenly say that federal law protects LGBT people employment discrimination.
It turns out that elected officials hold the same misconception — even ones who voted against such measures. Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX) today told ThinkProgress that he believes non-discrimination protections are in place for gay workers and that no “citizen of the United States should be discriminated against for any reason:”
STRASSER: Do you believe in other protections for gay people outside of marriage, things like hospital visitation or protection from being fired in the workplace?
MARCHANT: I don’t think any citizen of the United States should be discriminated against for any reason.
KEYES: So if there were legislation saying it’d be illegal to discriminate and fire someone for being gay…
MARCHANT: Those laws are already on the books.
KEYES: I don’t think that’s a law right now.
MARCHANT: Well, I’m not going to stand here and argue with you. I believe that those protections are afforded every citizen of the United States. Whether those laws are enforced or not, that’s up to the Justice Department. I believe that those rights are on the books.
Marchant seems to have forgotten about the role he played in blocking legislation that would have enacted the protections he championed today. In 2007, Marchant voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, legislation that would have protected LGBT people from workplace discrimination.
Luckily, Rep. Marchant will get the opportunity to renew his commitment to fight discrimination of LGBT workers. A bipartisan group of senators released a letter today 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 on June 12.