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.
Rep. Marchant mistakenly thinks gay workplace discrimination is already illegal
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.
In actuality, an employer is able to fire someone for being gay in 29 states and for being transgender in 34 states, and a huge number of LGBT workers have acknowledged discrimination at work.
Luckily, Rep. Marchant will get the opporunity 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.
This blog originally appeared in Think Progress on May 10, 2012. Reprinted with permission.
About the author(s): Scott Keyes is a reporter for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Scott went to school at Stanford University where he received his B.A. in Political Science and M.A. in Sociology. He has appeared on MSNBC and TBD Newstalk TV and been a guest on many radio shows. His writing has been published by The Atlantic, Politico, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott comes to DC from southwest Ohio, a state very near and dear to his heart.
About the author(s): Annie-Rose Strasser is a Reporter/Blogger for ThinkProgress. Before joining American Progress, she worked for the community organizing non-profit Center for Community Change as a new media specialist. Previously, Annie-Rose served as a press assistant for Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Annie-Rose holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from the George Washington University.
The thoughts of this author are the author’s alone and do no represent those of Workplace Fairness