Rep. Steve King speaks with reporters as he leaves the House Republican Conference meeting, Oct. 4, 2013.
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GOP rep.: Sexual orientation cannot be ‘independently verified’

Updated

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer may have vetoed the “religious freedom” bill that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians, but Iowa Congressman Steve King is still defending it. 

In an interview on Sunday with a local Des Moines television station, King argued that the LGBT community was asking for “special rights for self-professed behavior.”

“Although it’s clear in the civil rights section of the code that you can’t discriminate against people based upon–and I’m not sure I have the list right–race, creed, religion, color of skin, there’s nothing mentioned in there on self-professed behavior, and that’s what they’re trying to protect: special rights for self-professed behavior,” he said. “And I think it’s difficult for us to define a law that would protect behavior.”

King admitted that he didn’t know if sexual orientation was a choice or not, butcontinued“The one thing that I reference when I say ‘self-professed’ is how do you know who to discriminate against? They have to tell you. And are they then setting up a case? Is this about bringing a grievance or is it actually about a service that they’d like to have?”

The controversial Arizona bill would have allowed businesses to turn gay and lesbian individuals away based on religious beliefs, which supporters–including lawmakers like King–said was important to protect religious freedom.

“If it’s not specifically protected in the Constitution, then it’s got to be an immutable characteristic, that being a characteristic that can be independently verified and cannot be willfully changed,” King said.

Hardball with Chris Matthews, 3/4/14, 7:55 PM ET

GOPer: Being gay is ‘self-professed behavior’

Sideshow: Iowa Rep. Steve King is still defending Arizona’s ‘religious freedom’ bill that would discriminate against.

GOP rep.: Sexual orientation cannot be 'independently verified'

Updated