Rand Paul: Employers should be able to fire you for being gay

Rand Paul is a big believer in personal liberty, in his own personal way. That way, it would seem, includes the right to fire someone simply for being who they are:

Speaking at Drake University in Iowa, Paul told those in the room that prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation “sets up a whole industry for people who want to sue,” but that LGBT people need not worry, because “I think society’s rapidly changing, and that if you are gay, there are plenty of places that will hire you.”

As he added:

Rand Paul, via Creative Commons

Rand Paul, via Creative Commons

So if you happen to be gay, you get fired—now you have a reason you can fire them. But it’s almost impossible sometimes—you know, people don’t put up a sign, ‘I’m firing you because you’re gay.’ It’s something that’s very much disputed. And so I don’t know that we need to keep adding to different classifications to say the government needs to be involved in the hiring and firing.

However, despite Paul’s appeals to the confusion that can arise as to whether people who are fired for being gay are really fired for being gay, it’s pretty clear that’s not what he meant:

As Benjy Sarlin tweeted, Paul is basically calling for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” for the entire economy.

It’d be tempting to ask Paul to replace “gay” with “black” in his thought experiments and see if he still agreed with the sentiment, but he’s already answered that question for us, opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on similar grounds (he has since reversed his position). In Paul’s view, if discrimination were really so bad, the market would punish it on its own so there’s no need to legislate against it. If a business can make money while refusing to employ or serve whoever they feel like, then so be it.

This unrelenting opposition to regulation is one of the few issues on which Rand Paul has remained true to his self-described libertarian principles over the course of the campaign. He was willing to go mainstream Republican on marriagecriminal justice and war. But non-discrimination laws are apparently a bridge too far.

For what it’s worth, a majority of Americans already think it’s illegal to fire someone for being gay, and that same majority of Americans is wrong.

(h/t The New Civil Rights Movement)


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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71 Responses to “Rand Paul: Employers should be able to fire you for being gay”

  1. Moderator3 says:

    You’re no longer being part of the discussion. You are using this thread as a forum to pontificate. Sounds as if you need to spend your energy establishing your own blog. Good-bye.

  2. Lids says:

    No. The concern here is malice and unjust frivolous lawsuits.

  3. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    If this was intended as a reply, you failed miserably.

  4. Lids says:

    May I ask, just how much government intrusion in your life is too much? You have to ask yourself, if the government needs to hold your hand throughout every aspect of your life, then, your sensibilities make you über sensitive. Why should a majority suffer for a minority?
    The funny thing about socialists is, is that they fail to recognize that real change and real revolution doesn’t come from persons who rely on the government for everything.

  5. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    “Do you think it’s fair to give protected classes preferential treatment?”

    Can you actually read through this thread and not know the answer to that?

    As for your worry about proving an employee was dismissed because they were LGBT. Is that reason to not challenge the employer? It’s just as difficult to prove someone was dismissed because of their gender or their age, but it is done all the time.

    Does doctor eleven follow you around just to upvote your comments?

  6. Lids says:

    I was going to say that Waldron Mercy Academy was well within it’s legal right,
    but the whole, Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit and the Educational Improvement Tax Credit does pose a problem.
    This still doesn’t illustrate how a gay or lesbian employee could prove that they were fired for said reason. Do you think it’s fair to give protected classes preferential treatment?

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  8. BeccaM says:

    Thanks Mod4. I knew you folks surely must’ve been.

  9. Moderator4 says:

    We are keeping an eye on her. She hasn’t quite totally crossed the line. Yet.

  10. BeccaM says:

    You are now very much in the minority in terms of being a homophobic bigot. A solid majority of Americans favor same-sex marriage equality and even more favor workplace anti-discrimination protections for LGBT employees.

    Your ‘advice’ has been appalling and you should be ashamed of yourself.

  11. BeccaM says:

    But an employer should not be forced to hire you or keep you on the payroll simply for your sexual orientation.

    An employer should be prohibited from refusing to hire or firing anyone simply because of the employee’s sexual orientation. The question isn’t the sexual orientation — it’s whether or not irrational bigotry will be tolerated.

    This is the essence of anti-discrimination legislation. It’s about employers not being allowed to fire someone for reasons entirely unrelated to that person’s ability to do their job. This includes the person’s race, religion, age, gender, and sexual orientation.

  12. FLL says:

    Not simply for your sexual orientation, no. Just for your qualifications and work record, like anyone else. Agreed.

  13. Lids says:

    Non sequitur.

  14. Lids says:

    Hahaha! :p

  15. Lids says:

    Many here may not like what I’ve written, and it’s obviously upset some readers, hence, the f**k off reference posted several times, but think about it for a moment..
    If you want to be an activist, that’s great, be one. If you wanna work, work. But an employer should not be forced to hire you or keep you on the payroll simply for your sexual orientation.

  16. FLL says:

    I’m glad to hear that. Your first positive comment.

  17. doctor eleven says:

    Well probably because I made it sound like any idiot can become an optometrist and get a job down at their local SEARS Optical Center.

  18. Lids says:

    But who would start a campaign to get coworkers fired once they’ve found out your gay. That’s awful. In the past I have only talked to trusted co-workers about my views. My job right now entails being at home with my 22 month old son while my husband works.

  19. Lids says:

    Lol why?

  20. FLL says:

    The “default settings of normalcy” in corporate America is that you don’t start a campaign to get your coworkers fired because you’ve found out that they’re gay. If you, Lids, ignored that default setting of normalcy, I think you’d find yourself experiencing difficulties in your professional life, which is why I’m sure that you keep your mouth shut about your animus at work.

  21. doctor eleven says:

    I called him an optometrist once. Boy did that piss a lot of people off.

  22. Lids says:

    It’s not me that has dictated the default settings of normalcy in this country. My advice through out this thread has been sound.

  23. Lids says:

    I want to move away from the emotional element of this discourse and get to the legal part. How can you prove in a court of law that an employer has fired you due to being gay?

  24. Lids says:

    Eh, he’s an awesome ophthalmologist.

  25. Jon Green says:

    You were the one who raised the pregnancy analogy, not me. Don’t back off of it now just because it proves my point, not yours.

  26. BeccaM says:

    You’re not a homophobe? Sure you are. Anybody who uses the term ‘lifestyle’ or initially refers to sexual orientation as a choice is someone who is an anti-gay bigot. Likewise for anyone like yourself who has the double standard of requiring LGBT employees to hide their personal lives, but makes no such requirement of heterosexual employees.

    You make further assumptions that everyone here is gay. In that, you are also mistaken.

  27. BeccaM says:

    protecting business owners and all of their employees

    Protecting them from what? From having to obey anti-discrimination laws? From having to know they’re working alongside someone who is different from themselves?

    You’re clearly not interested in protecting ‘all’ employees — just those who live their lives in ways you personally approve of.

  28. FLL says:

    I think you mean to say “self preservation because people like me can hurt openly gay people professionally.” You overestimate your clout. To test out your level of clout, try voicing your opinions openly at work and see how far you get. Not the same as commenting on the Internet, is it?

  29. FLL says:

    As you requested, I’ll be more specific. By pointing out that you can’t cover up race, you’re clearly suggesting that gay people cover up their personal lives and every aspect of their marriages or romantic interests. That is the clear meaning of the part of your comment that I quoted. Please don’t pretend that you’ve temporarily forgotten how to use the English language because that’s a childish response.

  30. Lids says:

    You’re thinking about this in terms of black and white. What I’ve been advocating here is self preservation of yourself and your job, for your protection.
    I’m not a homophobe at all. I’m asking you all to not play the victim card.

  31. doctor eleven says:

    Americans should be able to fire Rand Paul for having stupid, ugly hair.

  32. Lids says:

    Jon, skin color and/or pregnancy does not parallel with sexual orientation.
    This is about protecting business owners and all of their employees.

    I think It’s safe to say that most employers are in this century anyhow, so the bigotry is becomimg less and less prevalent.

  33. FLL says:

    From you comment: “Either leave your personal life at home, or find another job.

    I’m guessing that you would like to voice these opinions at work. I think that would be very ill-advised at the vast majority of companies, so I’ll give you your own advice: Either leave your malice at home ore find another job. You see? You may have the argument upside down in the 21st century.

  34. BeccaM says:

    Sure it does. It illustrates your personal hypocrisy, since obviously someone like you has no problem when heterosexuals parade and announce their ‘lifestyle’ at work. The only ones you want to have to pretend to total asexuality — solely for your personal comfort and that of other bigots just like you — are LGBT people.

    By the way, homophobia is the real lifestyle choice. You can be different if you want to, unlike sexual orientation. And also unlike sexual orientation, which just is, extreme homophobia like yours is often an indicator of underlying mental disorders.

  35. Lids says:

    Failing to disclose information is not the same as lying, btw..
    This is about keeping your job so that you can pay your bills.
    Plus, if you’re aware that your employer is hostile to gays than why go looking to get fired? Either leave your personal life at home, or find another job. It’s real simple stuff.

  36. FLL says:

    When you work anywhere for any length of time, you’re not legally obligated to answer any question about your personal life, but that never happens. You well know that you have never worked with any group of coworkers for any lenght of time where you’ve heard someone refuse to answer any question about their personal life or answer by saying “no comment.” It just doesn’t happen, and to pretend that it does happen, you show yourself to be a hypocrite. People will ignore your advice since it’s obviously hypocritical—that is, if you actually voice that opinion openly at work, which I don’t think you do.

  37. Lids says:

    Nonsense, you are not obligated to disclose that information, period.
    By saying that you have to adhere to catty gossip in a work setting, you turn yourself into a victim.

    …physical trait that no one can cover up… [emphasis mine]
    Can you please be more specific?

  38. Jon Green says:

    “competent employee using their analytical skills to discern if their supervisor is intrinsically homophobic”

    ^Replace “homophobic” with “racist” and tell me that it’s a black employee’s fault if they get fired for being black.

    And yes, pregnant workers do face discrimination, which is why there are *laws on the books* that give women recourse to sue their employer if they are discriminated against for having a child.

  39. Lids says:

    This doesn’t help your cause.

  40. FLL says:

    As you well know, it is virtually impossible to work anywhere in any industry for any length of time without at least some of your coworkers inquiring about your spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend or romantic interests. You understand this, and yet you pretend that you don’t understand it. By doing that, you turn yourself into a liar. But let me take a phrase from your comment in order to figure out what you’re suggesting:

    …physical trait that no one can cover up… [emphasis mine]

  41. Lids says:

    Mike, that’s all fantastic, I mean it is. But does all of that trump the rights of your employer to not have the government breathing down his/her neck?
    All it takes is for one disgruntled employee to put everyone at the company at risk just to get even with the employer. The ends don’t justify the means.

  42. BeccaM says:

    You mean like the way Rand Paul paraded/announced his sexual orientation at work this time?

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6e/Rand_Paul_ceremonial_swearing_in.jpg

    Fuck off, bigot.

  43. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    First, thanks to Jon for stepping up to the plate. Allies are very important .

    Second, lets talk about the word lifestyle. My lifestyle is very boring. Today I’m doing laundry which I really hate doing. Tomorrow is grocery shopping day, but we will probably go out to a restaurant in the evening. Saturday, we plan on finally cleaning up the back yard. You see, we only bought the house a little while ago. Exciting, huh? I would suspect that our lives and many heterosexual couples’ lives are probably quite similar. The main difference is that we can wear each others’ clothes.

    I’m now retired, but my husband goes to work each day. He keeps my picture on his desk, bless his heart. Why shouldn’t he? Most employees keep pictures of their family on their desk. In fact, there are some places that would find the lack of a family picture suspect. If he were to discuss with his coworkers what he did over the weekend, should he be forced to remember to change the pronouns he and him to she and her. Doing things like that are soul sucking. Acting like you are someone you are not is oppressive, sort of like trying to breathe in a closet. Oh. I guess that’s where the expression originated.

  44. Lids says:

    I was going to delve into the logistics of a competent employee using their analytical skills to discern if their supervisor is intrinsically homophobic, or, not a friend to the LGBT community.
    If not, the employee, for the sake of their livelihood, would not take their S/O to a company party for fear of reprisal. If the person is employed in a heavily conservative town, but there was never any gossip or chatter about gays in the office, it would be wise to exercise extreme caution.

    And Rand Paul says that if your employer doesn’t like that, they can fire you without needing any other reason
    Unfortunately, this is the slippery slope that the gays slide on when being open about their life style. This also opens up the flood gates for employers to be subjected to unfair and frivolous lawsuits. I have to agree with Paul here.
    Also, pregnant women are discriminated against in the work force far more than gays are.
    Inoculate can mean inject, therefore I believe it to be appropriate. My goal is to always convey my thoughts expeditiously, but I’m getting much better at submissively accepting constructive criticism.

  45. Indigo says:

    I can respect that. Mine are all in Indiana. I stay away on purpose.

  46. Jon Green says:

    “why would you feel the need to parade/announce your sexual orientation at work?”

    You say “parade/announce.” I say going about your business as a person. Invite your significant other as your plus one to the company party? Congratulations, you’ve just paraded/announced your sexual orientation. And Rand Paul says that if your employer doesn’t like that, they can fire you without needing any other reason.

    Also, I don’t think “inoculate” means what you think it means…

  47. Hue-Man says:

    Even with ENDA, it doesn’t prevent “discreet” discrimination. Your performance is always viewed negatively. You don’t receive expected promotions and pay raises. A new job within the company is never proposed to you. Your employee evaluations always refer to your inability to get along with people. Ultimately, you do like Romney advocated – you self-deport from your job.

    Did this ever happen to me? I’ll never know but it probably did – I quit.

  48. 2karmanot says:

    yep….

  49. Lids says:

    This is an excellent question that I wish he would answer directly. Interesting.

  50. Lids says:

    Benjy Sarlin tweeted, Paul is basically calling for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell for the entire economy.

    If you are a member of the LGBT community living in Texas for example, why would you feel the need to parade/announce your sexual orientation at work? Which is more important, having an income for yourself and family, or, trying to inoculate your work site with counter productive activist propaganda?
    The difference between discrimination against blacks and gays is that a hue is just that, physical trait that no one can cover up.. sexual orientation is essentially a life style choice that should have no bearings on a person’s place of employment.

  51. mf_roe says:

    Texas is where my family is–not really any option to move.

  52. mf_roe says:

    Wish that was a LOTTO! Bonus cash would replace my non-existent COLAs next year.

  53. Indigo says:

    All that. But we have sunshine, we really do. And that’s what keeps me here.

  54. mf_roe says:

    I empathize with you, Red Neck assholes, Predatory Billionaires,Oil Spills, Hurricanes and Bushes. If I believed in Hell I wouldn’t fear it after putting up with the last 66 years here on the Gulf.

  55. 2karmanot says:

    Bingo!

  56. mf_roe says:

    The foundation of Libertarian belief is “I should be able to do anything I want UNLESS it Harms someone else” of course the corollary is ” If someone Else’s actions cause me no Harm I have no right to interfere” Libertarian philosophy can create no justification of ANYONE having a RIGHT to impose their VALUES on others. Paul is a fraud. The closest he ever gets to “Libertarian” values is his rejection of the individual’s obligation to society, and he gets that wrong. As Jefferson explained it citizens must surrender some of their Liberty to secure the benefits of a civil society.

    Paul embraces Objectivism, the religion of selfishness, his self interest is the only value he cares about.

  57. Houndentenor says:

    Really? Because in most states you CAN be fired for being gay, including the state he represents in the Senate.

  58. Houndentenor says:

    Because nothing is so rare these days as common courtesy. I remember the assholes in NYC who stood in the doors of subway cars making it hard for anyone to get on and off and then went ballistic if anyone so much as brushed against them.

    You are right. It’s the very people who think we shouldn’t have any such laws that would break the social customs that make everything run smoothly. Imagine if everyone would go to their right when walking towards each other (or even in hallways or tunnels). We could all get where we are going so much faster but no there are fucktards who want to bob and weave and create a huge clusterfuck. I can only imagine the dystopian nightmare that a libertarian society would be. Yes, I flirted with some of these ideas in my teens. It seems logical on the surface that we should all just do whatever we want but in a society of any size we sometimes have to inconvenience ourselves just a bit for the good of everyone else. Like stopping at stop signs or driving in the correct lane.

  59. Indigo says:

    It’s like that here in Florida too. Dismissal for no cause is perfectly legal. But then, it’s Florida. ‘Nuff said.

  60. Indigo says:

    Purple is a difficult color to work with.

  61. gratuitous says:

    It’s hand-in-glove with the libertarian fantasy world. Somehow everyone will always follow the “rules” so they don’t need to be written down. “Everybody knows” you should drive on the right side of the road, why do we have to have a law saying that? Because, of course, if that law was stricken from the books, the selfish assholes would immediately be driving anywhere on the street where there was an opening: Hey, there’s no law against it!

    We enact these laws because of the assholes like Rand Paul and his libertarian fanboiz.

  62. mf_roe says:

    Here in Texas you are employed “:At the pleasure of your Boss” he doesn’t need to give a reason. The only exception is to collect unemployment a terminated employee must not have been fired for cause. The Boss usually just offers the needs of the business changed or is planned to change.

  63. Houndentenor says:

    In the late 90s some gay employees at American Express (this happened in many other companies as well at the same time) went to the head of HR with a proposal to be added to the nondiscrimination policy. The only question was “are we discriminating now?” Not really. And it was done. It wasn’t actually a change in corporate policy, just a change in the written policy. (Of course this was the late 90s when companies were begging for people to come to work for them. No, 20-somethings…I’m not making that up!!!) There would be no lawsuits because everyone was expected to adhere to the policy.

  64. Houndentenor says:

    I don’t think I own anything purple. :-( I don’t want to be seen as unsupportive but then everyone I know at my university knows I’m a big ol’ queen anyway.

  65. Houndentenor says:

    I work multiple jobs mostly as an independent contractor. I don’t have to be fired. They can just not renew my contract at the end of the season or just say they don’t need my services any more. Even nondiscrimination rules wouldn’t really help me in those situations. I always scope out the situation before deciding how much personal information to reveal. Sometimes they are just not people I want to be all that social with. Friendly in a “my momma brung me up right way” but not people I’d ever socialize with. And sometimes I realize the situation is hostile or at least not friendly to gay people so I keep my mouth shut until I can find something else. (It’s easy to say just quit but the rent has to be paid and I like keeping the power and water turned on, thanks.) But honestly if anyone is all that curious, and sometimes they are, it’s really hard to keep things like that a secret unless you are so closeted that you have no gay friends, interests or much of a life. People who are fired for being gay are usually not fired because they came out but because someone outed them. That was a real fear decades ago and guys hooking up would even use fake names and fake careers/stories so that wouldn’t happen. Paul has no fucking idea what he’s talking about.

    But…if he wants to repeal all nondiscrimination laws (and he’s said in the past that he does) then he should make that a campaign issue and propose the law to do so. Until then, I think I have the same rights to work and rent and live as everyone else.

  66. Indigo says:

    He’s just another bully.

  67. gratuitous says:

    Yes, guaranteeing basic rights for everyone in society will just set up “a whole industry for people who want to sue.” Sen. Paul is aware, is he not, that litigation is the system our society has set up to adjudicate these issues? Is he saying that people should have no redress for being deprived of life, liberty or property? That people shouldn’t have the right to earn a living for arbitrary and capricious reasons? That employers have no obligations or responsibilities in our society?

  68. emjayay says:

    And others are not and others are not promoting gay people like they might straight people and others are firing gay people.

  69. icanhazconservative? says:

    This isn’t new. We also know he thinks the federal government shouldn’t be able to stop private businesses from firing people for being black, and that the magic of capitalism will punish those businesses who do.

  70. Med_91 says:

    This article is complete garbage! The title is misleading too. Rand did not ever say that if you are gay that you could be fired. He is right is his assessment that plenty of businesses are hiring gay people.

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