04/04/2012 01:57 pm ET

Steve King: Gays Should Not Make Sexuality Public At Work

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has some advice for gays facing workplace discrimination: keep your sexual orientation a secret.

"You have private sector businesses here and they need to have freedom to operate," he said in an interview with ThinkProgress. "In the first place, I would think that unless someone makes their sexuality public, it’s not anybody’s business, so neither is it our business to tell an employer who to hire. He won’t know who to discriminate against in the first place."

When asked whether it should be legal for business to discriminate against gays in hiring practices, King replied, "How do you know someone’s sexual orientation?"

King has been talking this way for years. In 2010 he spoke out against legislation designed to prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, calling it a violation of employers' rights to hire and fire freely. He laid out a scenario that demonstrated his idea of a fair 'don't ask, don't tell' workplace policy:

And [State Sen. Jerry Behn] said, "let me ask you a question. Am I heterosexual or am I homosexual?" And they looked him up and down, actually they should have known, but they said, "We don't know." And he said, "Exactly, my point. If you don't project it, if you don't advertise it, how would anyone know to discriminate against you?" And that's at the basis of this. So if people wear their sexuality on their sleeve and then they want to bring litigation against someone that they would point their finger at and say, "You discriminate."