Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 | 9:45 a.m.
A Republican congressional candidate made comments yesterday likening a federal bill establishing gay and transgender job discrimination protections to "segregation."
Assemblyman Cresent Hardy of Mesquite told the Sun that he would not support such a bill because it would create a special class of workers.
At issue is the federal Employment Non-discrimination Act, a measure before Congress that would make it a crime for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on the employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It would add that language to a list of federally protected classes, which includes race, religious creed, age, among other descriptors. In 2011, Hardy voted against a similar law, Assembly Bill 211, in Nevada.
At the time, Hardy's Congressional opponent, Democratic Congressman Steven Horsford, was in the state Senate. Horsford supported it, and Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the bill into law in 2011.
The Huffington Post and Mother Jones picked up on the "segregation" line. But here's a deeper look at what Hardy said:
The Sun: One thing that came up at the Legislature not this last go around but in 2011, there was a bill (Assembly Bill 211) talking about employment nondiscrimination, and there is a similar act up in Congress (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) basically instructing employers, saying you can’t discriminate against someone for reasons of their gender identity or sexual expression (orientation), and you voted against that one in 2011. Would you support something like that in Congress? I know Horsford has said he would support that in Congress.
Hardy: These are the type of issues that frustrate me. A crime is a crime. How can you call one type of crime a hate crime and another not a hate crime? We continue to, what I believe, separate people. We need to look at people as a whole. Everybody has the same rights and privileges. We should look at the same individuals, care about our neighbor, everybody is our neighbor, but by continuing to create these laws that are what I call segregation laws, it puts one class of a person over another. We are creating classes of people through these laws. That’s my belief. That’s the reason I have such frustration with it.
The Sun: So in this case saying that employers shouldn’t discriminate for X Y and Z reasons, you’re putting, how should it be done then to ensure that people aren’t discriminated against?
Hardy: You shouldn’t discriminate against anybody, regardless of gender, race, whatever. There’s no reason for any type of discrimination.
The Sun: So you can have just a blanket kind of law?
Hardy: When we create classes, we create that same separation that we’re trying to unfold somehow.