Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky says that he does not believe that LGBT Americans need special protections at the workplace. The presidential candidate told a group of college students on Oct. 14 that anti-discrimination laws would create “a class of people who can now sue.”
Paul was visiting Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, as a part of a three-day college campus tour for his presidential campaign when he made the controversial comments, NBC News reports.
During the event, one student asked him about whether or not it should be illegal for businesses to fire a person based on their sexual or gender orientation.
"I think really the things you do in your house, we could just leave those in your house and they wouldn't have to be part of the workplace," Paul said, according to the Huffington Post. “I don't know if we need to keep adding to different classifications to say government needs to be involved in the hiring and firing. I think society is rapidly changing and if you are gay, there are plenty of places that will hire you."
Paul has previously stated that it is “offensive to compare the civil rights struggle of the 1960s to the issues associated with ENDA,” explaining why he voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2013.
During the Oct. 14 event, the Kentucky senator also told students that laws barring discrimination toward LGBT Americans at the workplace would lead to lawsuits.
"So what happens is it sets up a whole industry of people who want to sue," Paul said. "So if you happen to be gay, you get fired—now you have a reason you can fire them. But it's almost impossible sometimes—you know, people don't put up a sign, 'I'm firing you because you're gay.' It's something that's very much disputed.
"And so I don't know that we need to keep adding to different classifications to say the government needs to be involved in the hiring and firing."
The Democratic PAC, American Bridge, said that Paul’s answer has “almost too many offensive quotes” to just single out one, NBC News reports.
"I heard a lot of students speaking afterwards, and they said they were with them until he said that," Sarah Fulton, a 21-year-old Drake University senior, Sarah Fulton, told NBC. “Our generation is becoming more and more accepting. I do think that would hurt him with a younger demographic, especially at a more liberal school like Drake."