|Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX)|
In a scathing report published by ThinkProgress intern Joseph Diebold yesterday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) admitted (to no one's surprise) that he does not support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Though his lack of support for the legislation is in no way newsworthy given his virulently anti-gay ideals and voting history, his response to questions surrounding the legislation are newsworthy for several reasons. In the brief interview with ThinkProgess, Gohmert had this to say:
THINKPROGRESS: Where do you stand on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act?
GOHMERT: I’m not aware of exactly which one you’re talking about
THINKPROGRESS: It would protect LGBT workers from being fired due to their sexual orientation.
GOHMERT: Who wants to go talking about sexual orientation when they’re working? Good grief.
That Gohmert isn't even aware of one of the largest pieces of civil rights legislation moving through the two chambers this year should be telling enough. Much like his conservative counterparts, unless legislation specifically benefits him, Gohmert always seems to be oblivious right up until he votes against legislation. In fact, the only times Gohmert actually votes in favor of legislation it's typically so egregiously lopsided it would have no chance of passing in the Senate or being signed by President Obama. One such example of this is the amendment House Republicans attached to the Farm Bill that would've literally taken food out of the mouths of thousands of low income families (that is, they attempted to attack the SNAP Food Assistance program).
But even more offensive than Gohmert's ignorance of ENDA's existence is his response upon finding out what the legislation was meant to do. "Who wants to go talking about sexual orientation when they’re working? Good grief," he replied smugly. I mean come on, why should normal, heterosexual workers have to be subjected to discussion about other people's sexual orientations? Who wants to hear about their coworkers' personal lives anyway? No one ever talks about their spouses, their girlfriends and boyfriends and what they had for dinner or what movie they saw over the weekend. That all should be reserved for upstanding heterosexual persons and those evil, sinful gays should just stay in the closet where they belong. Right?
I imagine that's what went through Rep. Gohmert's head when he learned what ENDA aims to do. And it's not too far fetched to assume many on the conservative side of the aisle share that line of thinking. Contrary to their prejudices though, gay and lesbian workers do lead typical lives just like their heterosexual counterparts. Some go on dates, some have spouses and children, and some stay at home watching television on Saturday nights. The only difference between the two groups in most states is that gays and lesbians can be fired for leading the same identical "lifestyles" - they can be fired for the same mundane rituals, only with same sex partners.
According to reporting by ThinkProgress, "Workplace discrimination is a major problem for LGBT individuals. Nearly 40 percent of openly lesbian, gay, or bisexual employees and 90 percent of transgender workers report feeling discrimination in employment." ENDA isn't just about giving LGBT workers peace of mind in discussing their personal lives in the workplace. Rather, it's about securing their livelihood in an increasingly difficult employment market. That conservatives like Gohmert can't see or understand that demonstrates exactly what's wrong with the current Republican party.