Nevada state Assemblyman Cresent Hardy (R), who is hoping to oust first-term Rep. Steven Horsford (D) this fall, said Tuesday that he opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because it would amount to a "segregation" law.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would bar workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity illegal. It passed the U.S. Senate in a bipartisan vote in November, but House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has so far given no indication that he intends to bring it up for a vote in his chamber -- even though many supporters believe it has enough votes to pass.
"When we create classes, we create that same separation that we're trying to unfold somehow," Hardy told the Las Vegas Sun in an interview. "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."
What ENDA would do, however, is make it so that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals are not a separate class of people with separate rules. It is already illegal under federal law to discriminate against someone's race, religion, gender, national origin, age or disability. As the Human Rights Campaign states on its website, "ENDA extends fair employment practices -- not special rights -- to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people."
Hardy also said he is against marriage equality.
"I will always vote against same sex marriage because of my religious beliefs, the way I was raised,” said Hardy, who is Mormon. "For me to vote for it would be to deny the same God that I believe in."
Hardy is facing tea party activist Niger Innis in the Republican primary.
UPDATE: 1:04 p.m. -- The Sun released the full exchange with Hardy on ENDA:
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.