Louie Gohmert advises LGBT people to hide who they are at work

"Who wants to go talking about sexual orientation when they’re working? Good grief," Gohmert said

Published June 20, 2013 4:03PM (EDT)

Rep. Louie Gohmert
Rep. Louie Gohmert

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said on Wednesday that he wasn't "aware of exactly which one you’re talking about" when a reporter asked him about his position on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, but his attempt to dodge the question was probably more revealing than a simple yes or no answer.

After it was explained to him that the measure would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment practices based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Gohmert told a reporter from ThinkProgress: "Who wants to go talking about sexual orientation when they’re working? Good grief."

"Talking about sexual orientation" at work can be just that -- openly discussing one's life and family -- and it shouldn't be cause to reject a qualified candidate or fire an employee, which is why a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers are pushing to pass ENDA in the first place.

But as a growing body of research shows, "talking" about sexual orientation on the job isn't the only reason LGBT people are denied work, fired or otherwise harassed by employers. A report from the Williams Institute finds that 40 percent of gays and lesbians report experiencing some form of discrimination on the job, and a shocking 90 percent of transgender people have reported the same.

And studies have also shown that concealing one's identity at work can be a major mental health risk with dangerous consequences for LGBT individuals.

But it's possible Gohmert doesn't know that ENDA would help prevent this, since he's not "aware of exactly" what the measure is about in the first place.

h/t ThinkProgress

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Anti-gay Bias Discrimination Enda Lgbt People Lgbt Rights Louie Gohmert Transgender Rights