Former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) no longer believes that it should be legal to discriminate against LGBT people in employment and housing — but he still does not back federal legislation to remedy the problem.
Bush was asked by a gay employee at a San Francisco tech startup he visited on Thursday about his position on legislation to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, Time reported. Bush responded by denouncing discrimination in general, but also diminishing the need for legal protections and saying they should be only enacted at the state level.
“The fact that there wasn’t a law doesn’t necessarily mean you would have been discriminated against,” Bush told the worker. Studies have shown that between 15 percent and 43 percent of gay people have experienced some form of discrimination and harassment in the workplace and 90 percent of transgender workers reported experiencing some form of workplace harassment or mistreatment.
Bush then invoked the “religious liberty” argument made by anti-LGBT organizations, suggesting that while a florist should have to sell flowers to everyone, they should not be obligated to do so for a same-sex wedding.
Invoking the “states’ rights” argument is his way of weaseling out of the discussion. Oh, sure, he’s against discrimination, but let’s let the states decide for themselves. If we went that route on civil rights, schools would still be segregated as would lunch counters and bathrooms. Using the fallacious “religious liberty” point is just the new version of the old “if God had meant for the races to mingle, he’d have made us all one color” line.
I’d just as soon Mr. Bush come out and join his fellow Republicans such as Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and Mike Huckabee and unalterably stand for homophobia enshrined into law such as a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality and denying equal protection by statute for the LGBT community. He was certainly in favor of it when he was the governor of Florida, so if he’s going to stand on his record back then, he can do it now.