Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) claimed Wednesday he had “zero tolerance for discrimination,” but on the same day opposed a bill to ban workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans.
As part of his defense of a staffer under fire for once making comments in support of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth, Paul told the Huffington Post:
PAUL: All I can say is, we have a zero tolerance policy for anybody who displays discriminatory behavior or belief in discriminating against people based on the color of their skin, their religion, their sexual orientation, anything like that. We won’t tolerate any of that, and I’ve seen no evidence of that.
But Paul was recorded as a “no” Wednesday morning when the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee voted 15 to 7 to advance the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). ENDA would simply ban employment discrimination on the basis of a person’s real or perceived sexual orientation or gender.
Though every Democrat, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and even self-described Tea Party Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) voted for the bill, Paul’s vote came as little surprise. In the past he has suggested that he believes federal non-discrimination laws are unconstitutional. In his 2010 Senate campaign, he told a newspaper, “I don’t like the idea of telling private business owners — I abhor racism. I think it’s a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant — but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership.” He cited the First Amendment to explain his objection to the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s public accommodations provisions, calling it the “hard part of believing in freedom.”
Paul might also not pass his own test. Last year, he told an anti-gay joke in a speech to a Christian conservative group in Iowa. Even Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council — a designated anti-LGBT hate group — criticized Paul for being uncivil and disrespectful.
In June, Paul suggested that same-sex marriage could lead to bestiality — a comment a spokeswoman later explained had been intended to be “sarcasm.”