By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com June 19 2014 2:33 PM ET
A Republican congressman from North Dakota is channelling House Speaker John Boehner in claiming that LGBT people aren't discriminated against in the workplace, though he offered a peculiar explanation as to how he knows that.
"I'm not even sure that this is a problem," Rep. Kevin Cramer told Bismarck TV station KFYR Tuesday. "I have to be honest — I don't get many, if any [complaints]. I don't know that I've ever received a phone call in my office from somebody that says they've been discriminated against based on their sexual orientation."
Cramer was talking to the station about President Obama's recently announced plans to sign an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against workers based on the employee's sexual orientation or gender identity. Despite the fact that LGBT advocates have been pushing the Obama administration to issue such an order for the entirety of his presidency, and the fact that the much broader Employment Non-Discrimination Act has been introduced in every Congress except one since 1996 and now enjoys bipartisan, majority support in the U.S. Senate, Cramer said Obama's announcement is all about political posturing. He told KFYR that companies should be free to make their own policies regarding the equal treatment and employment of LGBT people.
Apparently, Cramer is unaware that a 94 percent of the top 100 companies in the U.S. — including the top 50 federal contractors and the top 50 Fortune 500 companies — have already done just that. Nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people have already proved to be smart business, which is why a majority of small businesses have also voiced support for the federal legislation, according to a comprehensive report from the Center for American Progress.
As for Cramer's assertion that LGBT people don't face discrimination in the workplace — a falsehood often repeated by Speaker Boehner — just last year, The Advocate collected the stories of a handful of individuals who were fired for being LGBT, and thanks to the lack of federal legislation, had no legal recourse to contest their dismissal. Anyone interested in sharing their experience of anti-LGBT workplace discrimination with Cramer can contact his offices in North Dakota and Washington here.