Rep. King: Gays Wear 'Sexuality on Their Sleeve'

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Steve King, a Republican representative from Iowa, recently had a conversation on the radio with Tony Perkins, president of the religious-right Family Research Council (of which gay-escort patron George Alan Rekers was a founding member). King and Perkins were discussing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, a bill that would prevent employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. King's argument was that such a bill isn't needed, and in fact misses the point, because homosexuals deliberately try to provoke discrimination with their behavior. Here's what King said:

If you don't project it, if you don't advertise it, how would anyone know to discriminate against you? And that's at the basis of this. So if people wear their sexuality on their sleeve and then they want to bring litigation against someone that they would point their finger at and say, 'You discriminate,' it is an entrapment that is legalized by the ENDA Act ... This is the homosexual activist lobby taking it out on the rest of society. They are demanding affirmation for their lifestyle. That's at the bottom of this.

King's comments haven't earned him many friends in the blogosphere.

  • That's Not Really the Point of ENDA  At Think Progress, Igor Volsky mildly suggests that King may be reading something into the legislation that isn't there. "Far from affirming 'their lifestyle,' as King calls it, ENDA would simply prohibit public and private employers from using an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity 'as the basis for employment decisions, such as hiring, firing, promotion or compensation,'" Volsky writes.
  • ENDA Benefits Straight People Too  Jeremy Hooper, proprietor of the LGBT blog Good As You, dovetails with Volsky, pointing out that "ENDA protects everyone, not just LGBT people! Everyone has a sexual orientation. Everyone has a gender identity. Every employer, including LGBT ones, have the capacity to unfairly discriminate on the basis of gender/sexuality. So therefore, everyone benefits from a world where education and training and experience and merit and viewpoints... are the qualities of job consideration."
  • What About All the Flagrant Heterosexuals? wonders True/Slant's Laurie Essig. "What's that on your hand? A wedding ring? What's that with your gender presentation- it's completely as it ought to be, with not a single sartorial signifier out of place? But still, you're not 'announcing' your straightness to the world, you're just embodying it; unlike pesky queers who have to shove their gender presentation and sexual identity in everyone's face." Essig also finds some tension between King's remarks and the right's response to Elena Kagan: "If I don't wear my sexuality on my sleeve, how can I ever get any where in this world? Look at poor Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan... she's gotta go and prove herself to be 100% hetero or the right wing nuts are going to pray her nomination away."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.