Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert had little to say about the details of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) on Wednesday…even though he had just given his take on the legislation after an “Audit the IRS” Tea Party rally on Capitol Hill.
“Who wants to go talking about sexual orientation when they’re working,” Gohmert told a Think Progress reporter Wednesday. “Good grief.”
But Gohmert has discussed his own sexual orientation in the workplace by acknowledging his wife and kids in his official website biography—and, as Chris Matthews noted, it can be tricky to casually have discussions in the workplace and not drop in sentence or two about your spouse.
Gohmert’s reluctance to answer could be due in part to his personal opinion on homosexuality. Politico reported in April that Gohmert was caught on tape during a conference call with Tea Party Unity saying, “When you say it’s not a man and a woman anymore, then why not have three men and one woman, or four women and one man, or why not, you know, somebody has a love for an animal?”
Gohmert has plenty of company in the GOP: Rep. Marco Rubio said he’s “not for any special protections based on orientation,” and Rep. Ron Johnson told reporters that he does not “particularly like the federal government telling anybody to do anything.”
A Center for American Progress report says that LGBT workers experience an unemployment rate equal or higher than other workers, are at a higher risk of poverty than other workers, and often pay higher taxes. Even though the study’s finding helped add weight to LGBT fair employment legislation, Republican Idaho lawmakers are attempting to undo LGBT workplace protections.
“I’d hire a gay guy if I thought he was a good worker. But if he comes into work in a tutu … he’s not producing what I want in my office,” GOP Resolutions Committee chairman Cornel Rasor told a Washington newspaper. “If a guy has a particular predilection and keeps it to himself, that’s fine. But if he wants to use my business as a platform for his lifestyle, why should I have to subsidize that? And that’s what these anti-discrimination laws do.”
ENDA is co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and 50 other Democrats, as well as Republican Senators Mark Kirk and Susan Collins. A Congressional committee will take on ENDA after the July 4 recess.