Rand Paul spoke with college students in Iowa last week.
LA Times political writer Seema Mehta, who is following the Paul campaign, reports that the Kentucky Libertarian Republican Senator and GOP presidential candidate just said that it’s OK to fire LGBT people because they can just go to work elsewhere.
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Paul also told students that gay people shouldn’t be openly gay if they want to keep their jobs, according to [tweets by] TIME Correspondent Phil Elliott:
Asked about anti-discrimination policies for LGBT workers, Rand Paul says if people kept their home life at home, it wouldn’t be an issue.
Rand Paul re LGBT worker: “The things you do in your house, if you leave them in your house, they wouldn’t have to be part of the workplace”
“I think, really, the things you do in your house, just leave those in your house and they wouldn’t have to be a part of the workplace, to tell you the truth,” Paul told the students.
Rand Paul later clarified as follows:
On CNN today, Rand Paul clarified his statements on LGBT workplace discrimination and made it clear he doesn’t think anyone should be fired for being gay.
Paul said yesterday, “The things you do in your house, if you could just leave those in your house, they wouldn’t have to be part of the workplace, to tell you the truth.”
Wolf Blitzer confronted Paul about those comments, and Paul said very clearly, “I don’t think anybody should be fired for being gay. I do also, though, believe that your personal life should be personal.”
In other words, Paul doesn’t think LGBT individuals should be fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity, but he also doesn’t think the government should ban firing people for being gay or transgender, and he thinks this wouldn’t be an issue if people would just stop being openly gay or transgender to begin with.
While visiting a still-conservative sister recently, I mentioned that we had to had to get back into town by a certain time because we were going to a wedding. She asked whose wedding, and I told her. The names were both obviously male names. And then there was silence. Was this me rubbing my gay friend’s orientation and wedding in her face? I suppose I could have avoided mentioning the wedding at all, but I only mentioned it because of the logistics.
These are the sort of decisions LGBT individuals have to make every day across the country. Paul makes it sound as though openly gay people, etc., are going out of their way to rub their orientation and identities in their employers’ faces, and that’s why they get fired. But that’s not what we’re actually talking about here. For gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, simply using the word “boyfriend” or “wife” can be a revolutionary and dangerous act. Transgender people often have little choice in the matter, as those unable to successfully “pass” as another gender will be “outed” before they even open their mouths.
I am curious what Paul would say about the possibility of Christians being fired for being Christian, and about whether he would advise his fellow Christians to hide their religious affiliation. I was unable to find an instance of Paul addressing this issue directly, though I did find that he supported Kim Davis and found her arrest an outrage. Apparently it would have been unreasonable to ask Davis to leave her religious beliefs at home.
I also found this quote from Rand Paul at an event last March:
“The First Amendment says keep government out of religion. It doesn’t say keep religion out of government.”
What happened to leaving the things you do in your house in your house? It seems that for Paul, religion has a role in government, but every other part of our home lives—including who we love and who we marry—should be left at home. Although actually, it’s worse than that, because I doubt Rand would advise heterosexual employees to avoid posting pictures of their spouses and children by their computers.
I understand that Paul’s belief that the government should not legislate who businesses can fire and to whom they must provide services stems from his libertarian beliefs, and it is possible that he is also against prohibiting people from firing Christians (though I’m not sure how his support of Kim Davis would fit here). However, this does not make his statements here less outrageous, and his suggestion that the solution is for gay people to stay in the closet, combined with his utter lack of understanding of the climates gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people face, especially in the Bible belt and other conservative areas, is, quite frankly, dangerous.