By Jay Hansen
This is Congressman James Lankford’s response to my letter asking about discriminatory hiring practices in regards to religion. I wrote him the letter after an interview with Think Progress where he says that members of the LGBT community should not have legal protections from discriminatory hiring practices.
Summary: Lankford did not address my question at all. He seems to have one automated response he sends to anyone e-mailing him about discrimination in the past 24 hours or so because of the massive influx of mail he is receiving, which is at least partially understandable. At least, it is for e-mails about the LGBT rights and sexual identity. Mine was not in that same pool, so my question went unanswered. Immediately, I wrote him back, which is at the end of this page.
May 16, 2012
Dear Mr. Hansen,
Thank you for contacting me about discrimination in the workplace. As this is an important issue, I would like to take a moment to explain my thoughts on employee’s rights and my support for the traditional institution of marriage.
As you know, Think Progress, the internet blog run by Center for American Progress Action Fund, recently posted about a comment I made as one of their video surrogates caught me outside the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington. Misconceptions are being wildly spun regarding what I actually said and meant in the Think Progress video clip. At no point in the video, nor anywhere else, have I ever stated that employers should be able to fire an employee based on outside-the-office sexual behavior. I emphatically believe that employment decisions should be based solely on performance in the workplace. An employee’s personal sexual preference has no place in that conversation. I did state that I believe the homosexual lifestyle is a choice, and I do firmly believe in the traditional view of marriage between one man and one woman.
After the President and Vice President’s recently-made statements supporting same-sex marriage, the fight for traditional marriage has come under attack nationwide. For some time, the Administration has continued to ignore Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act—the current law of the land. The Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton after being passed in both chambers of Congress with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. Section 3 of DOMA defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman for purposes of all federal laws, and to date, more than half of the nation’s state governments have codified their Constitutions to legally define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. My background and convictions also support the traditional institution of marriage as stated in the law.
Recent actions by the Administration have led to a unilateral decision of President Obama and the Department of Justice to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act. This is a slap in the face to our constitutional framework. No president gets to pick and choose different laws to enforce or not to enforce. The personal views of the President do not override the government’s duty to defend the law of the land. President Obama does not have the right to abandon the defense of this law.
As the President attempts to bring about “change” in our nation, he is redefining key terms along the way—marriage being a prime example. The outcry expressed over my conviction that marriage is between one man and one woman is telling of the state of our culture. Misrepresenting my position on workplace hiring to advance the President’s attempt to redefine marriage is disingenuous and an affront to my right to free speech.
I appreciate hearing your concerns, and I want to take this last opportunity to communicate clearly to you. I fully support workplace equality; I believe wholeheartedly in strictly performance-based employment decisions; and I will unequivocally defend the traditional view of marriage between one man and one woman.
As the 112 th Congress addresses the many challenges facing our nation, I hope you will continue to share your comments with me. Please, contact me via email for a faster response. To keep up with my work in Congress, I encourage you to visit my website at www.lankford.house.gov .
| In God We Trust,
MEMBER OF CONGRESS
Dear Congressman Lankford,
Thank you for responding to my letter so quickly. I understand correspondence is difficult for you now given this controversy, so I would like to assure you feel free to take your time in this response. I just watched your interview with the local CBS affiliate and I now have another question. In the interview, you said that employees should only be fired or punished based on work performance. While this may be true, and it may be what you would do as an employer, do you understand that not all employers think or act in such a way? As you said, they should judge an employee based off of his or her performance, but some simply don’t work that way. That is why we have legal protections for discrimination and wrongful termination, to make those employers that would judge an employee in such an inappropriate way in violation of the law. Do you believe that a gay or lesbian employee that (within reasonable suspicion thereof) is fired because of his or her sexual preference is entitled to a wrongful termination suit and due process? You seemed to be in support of discrimination laws regarding race and other factors that are immediately noticeable, but what about those regarding religion, as I asked in my original letter?
Also, as much as you may tire of seeing these statistics in the past couple of days I must ask, you are aware that nearly all accredited medical and psychological organizations in America agree that there is little to no choice in one’s sexual identity? How do you justify, and what credentials do you have, to refute such a clear majority of certified medical and scientific professionals?
Thank you for your time. I will try to condense my letters as much as possible in this correspondence with you.
- Jay Hansen