Utah senator attacks protections for gays and lesbians

Tea Party darling, and Utah Sen., Mike Lee said employers should be allowed to fire gays and lesbians for no other reason than disapproval of their sexual orientation. Lee, who held a Q-and-A session at the Conservative Political Action Conference, told Think Progress that he believes child labor laws and food safety programs are unconstitutional, but firing gays and lesbians based on their orientation alone should remain legal.

“I think employers ought not to make their hiring decisions based on categories like that, and I don’t think most of them do,” Lee said.

He went on to say that gays and lesbians do not deserve the same protections as those of a different race.

“The 14th Amendment — in fact the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments — were adopted specifically around the race issue. So, yeah, there is a difference,” Lee said.

Queer rights groups have recently ramped up pressure on the Obama administration to issue an executive order prohibiting the government from working with companies which do not have anti-discrimination policies. One report indicated that 16-million workers would receive expanded protections under such an order.

While recent state and national polling indicate widespread support for legal protections against bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity, leading Republican lawmakers oppose such measures.

Currently, 14 Utah municipalities offer protections for queers in the workplace and in housing. However, the Republican-controlled Utah Legislature has squashed efforts to pass a statewide bill.

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