Steve King: Being Gay Is 'Self-Professed Behavior' That Can't Be 'Independently Verified'

This post originally appeared in our Right Wing Watch blog.

Rep. Steve King of Iowa joined Des Moines’ WHO TV yesterday to discuss Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto of a bill that would have strengthened the ability of businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

“When you’re in the private sector and you’re an individual entrepreneur with God-given rights that our founding fathers defined in the Declaration, you should be able to make our own decisions on what you do in that private business,” King said.

He quickly clarified that he saw civil rights laws as an exception to that rule, but one that shouldn’t be expanded to protect LGBT people. “There’s nothing mentioned in [civil rights laws] about self-professed behavior,” he said, “and that’s what they’re trying to protect is special rights for self-professed behavior.”

Asked whether he thought that being gay is a choice, King responded that he didn’t “know whether it’s a choice or not,” that he imagined some type of “continuum or curve.” 

“I don’t know what that curve looks like,” he added. “I think some’s nature and some’s nurture, and some might be purely each. But I think a lot of it is a combination of nature and nurture.”

The congressman went on to imply that LGBT people are making their identities known in order to entrap business owners into discriminating against them.

“The one thing that I reference when I say ‘self-professed,’” he said, “is how do you know who to discriminate against? They have to tell you. And are they then setting up a case? Is this about bringing a grievance or is it actually about a service that they’d like to have?”

He then implied that homosexuality cannot be “independently verified” and can be “willfully changed.”

“If it’s not specifically protected in the Constitution,” he said of civil rights protections, “then it’s got to be an immutable characteristic, that being a characteristic that can be independently verified and cannot be willfully changed.” He added that this is part of why he opposes hate crimes laws.