Eye on the Opposition: Why Rand Paul is Wrong About Non-Discrimination Laws

By Adam Polaski • October 15, 2015 • 11:01 am

Yesterday, October 14 at Drake University, United States Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) made offensive comments about LGBT individuals in his continued attempt to twist the reality about non-discrimination laws in the United States.


“I think really, the things you do in your house – just leave those in your house and it wouldn’t have to be part of the workplace, to tell you the truth,” he said (video below), implying that LGBT people want something more than just to be treated equally and fairly while at work. All hardworking people – including LGBT people – should have the opportunity to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families, and nobody should have to live in fear of being legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance. But in 33 states, LGBT Americans are not fully protected from discrimination: In 28, gay and transgender people are not explicitly protected from employment discrimination, and in an additional 3, transgender people are denied these protections.

The reality is that LGBT people frequently experience discrimination. Here, some recent analyses:

  • A 2015 study from the Human Rights Campaign found that 63 percent of gay and transgender Americans have experienced some form of discrimination.
  • The numbers are even more troubling for the transgender community – 90 percent of whom have faced discrimination or harassment in the workplace.
  • In all, 64 percent of gay and transgender Americans cite discrimination as a major problem in our country.

Freedom for All Americans CEO Matt McTighe said today:

Rand Paul is wrong about nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people in the workplace. Enacting laws that ensure no American can lose their job for being gay or transgender increases productivity and helps attract top talent. Businesses know this, and that’s why the vast majority of Fortune 500 companies have already put policies into place that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Hardworking employees should be hired based on their qualifications, experience, and the job they do – nothing more, nothing less.

Senator Paul, who is currently running for the Republican presidential nomination, continued in his speech to misrepresent what non-discrimination laws are about. He said: “It sets up a classification, or a class of people who can now sue. You see what I mean? So what happens is, it sets up a whole industry of people who want to sue. So if you happen to be gay and you get fired, now you can have a reason to can fire.”

His comments ignore that in the United States, there are already federal laws protecting people from employment discrimination based on race and gender – critical non-discrimination protections that must now be extended to LGBT people. Studies routinely demonstrate that complaints of LGBT employment discrimination in states with these protections are filed at nearly the same rate as race and sex discrimination complaints: A 2014 study published by the LGBQT Policy Journal at Harvard’s Kennedy School found, “the rate at which LGB people file complaints under these laws is similar to the rate at which women and people of color file complaints under sex and race nondiscrimination laws.”

Beyond all of this, the reality is that thousands of businesses strongly support non-discrimination protections that include LGBT individuals, and they know that they’re simply good for business. These policies already exist in the majority of Fortune 500 companies, many states and hundreds of local municipalities – and they’ve helped create diverse, productive workplaces that are competitive in a global marketplace.

To take a stand against Sen. Paul’s comments and get engaged with the campaign to win federal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people, take the Freedom for All Americans pledge here. 

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