Republican Wants Right to Fire LGBT Employees Who 'Work in a Tutu'

As support for ENDA makes progress in the Senate, some Republicans try explaining their opposition.

BY Lucas Grindley

June 19 2013 12:22 PM ET

Cornel Rasor

Some Republicans claim they haven't thought about the merits of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would make it illegal to fire someone for being gay. But that doesn't include one Idaho state lawmaker.

“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,” said Cornel Rasor, according to The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash. Rasor is the chairman of the Idaho GOP's resolutions committee, which wants the state to invalidate any local antidiscrimination ordinances that include protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation  in housing and other areas.

Some congressional Republicans have said they won't support ENDA at the federal level because it opens businesses up to lawsuits over discrimination. That's what Ohio senator Rob Portman said, for example, after explaining why he isn't sure about ENDA but supports marriage equality.

Still, Rasor's explanation isn't entirely an outlier.

Republican senator John Boozman of Arkansas, for example, told The Huffington Post that employers depend on being able to fire employees who are "acting inappropriately."

"There is so much burden; it opens them up to lawsuits, things like that — having to defend themselves if somebody is acting inappropriately in the office and they happen to be this way or that way," he said. "Then you've got the ability to come back on them and sue them for discrimination."

With the addition this week of senators Harry Reid of Nevada, Tom Carper of Delaware, and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, ENDA now has 52 cosponsors in the Senate. Four Democrats haven't yet declared their support. Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Bill Nelson of Florida are in favor of marriage equality but haven't yet backed ENDA. Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and and Mark Pryor of Arkansas don't support marriage equality and haven't backed ENDA either.

On the Republican side in the Senate, Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois are cosponsors. The Huffington Post reports a string of comments from prominent Republicans who say ENDA isn't on their radar. From its story today:

When asked about his views on ENDA, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, "The who? Honestly, I don't -- I'm focused right now on border security, and that's my issue for the day."

"I don't know, I probably don't even have a comment on it right now," said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said he hadn't "studied the issue lately" but wanted to make sure language in the legislation was written in a way that "effectively allows the marketplace to function."

The Democratic majority leader, Reid, has called for a vote this session on ENDA, and it could come as soon as July.

Tags: Politics

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