Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on Sunday said that he opposed protecting LGBT people in hate crimes legislation because their attributes were not "immutable," and so they couldn't prove their sexual orientation.
During an interview with WHO-TV, King expressed regret that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) had vetoed a bill that would have allowed business owners to use their religion as reason to discriminate against LGBT people.
"You're an individual entrepreneur with God-given rights that our founders defined in the Declaration of Independence," he explained. "You should be able to make your own decisions with what you do in that private business."
King acknowledged that the public accommodation section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protected individuals based on race, religion and other characteristics.
"And there's nothing mentioned in there on self-professed behavior," he said, referring to homosexuality. "And that's what they're trying to perfect, is special rights for self-professed behavior. And I think it's difficult for us to define a law that would protect self-professed behavior."
But when asked if his use of the term "self-professed behavior" meant that being LGBT was a choice, King said that he wasn't sure.
"I think it exists across the continuum in some type of a curve, and I don't know what that curve actually looks like," the Iowa Republican opined. "I think some's nature and some's nurture. Some might be purely each. But I think a lot of it is a combination of nature and nurture."
"And the one thing I referenced when I say 'self-professed,' how do you know who to discriminate against?" he continued. "They about 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?"
"And doesn't free enterprise provide that service if the demand is there? Someone can open up a cake shop, can't they?"
In the end, King argued that LGBT people didn't deserve equal protection because their sexual orientation could not be "independently verified" and can be "willfully changed."
"And when we get into area of hate crimes legislation, I've opposed that because you're punishing people for what you think went on in their head at the time they perpetuated a crime," he said. "And it's a murky area of the law. We've not gone that way until the modern era, and I think it gets very messy."
Watch the video below from WHO-TV, broadcast March 4, 3014.
(h/t: Right Wing Watch)