A North Carolina Republican said Americans should have the right to smoke in privately owned businesses and fire LGBT employees.
Rep. Robert Pittinger spoke to Think Progress, where he repeated similar comments he made recently at a town hall in suburban Charlotte.
“You need to respect the autonomy of somebody running their business,” Pittinger told the website. “It’s like smoking bans. Do you ban smoking or do people have the right to private property? I think people have the right to private property. In public spaces, absolutely, we can have smoking bans. But we don’t want to micromanage people’s lives and businesses. If you have a business, do you want the government to come in and tell you you need to hire somebody? Why should government be there to impose on the freedoms we enjoy?”
The first-term congressman, who is running unopposed in North Carolina’s 9th District, said he would vote against the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, if given the chance.
The bill – which would prohibit workplace discrimination against LGBT employees — passed the U.S. Senate last year, but House Speaker John Boehner has said there is “no way” he would bring the measure up for debate.
“I believe people are already protected,” Pittenger said, although North Carolina is one of 29 states that permit employers to fire workers they perceive to be LGBT.
Pittenger also assured a mostly white town hall audience that he would work to have undocumented child migrants deported to their home countries – even though he later conceded some of them risked death upon return.
“It’s the most egregious, awful crime and a pity, what has happened to these young children,” Pittenger told ThinkProgress. “But do you want to open up America’s doors to the entire world? We can’t handle the healthcare and education today for our own population! We have to be sensible about what we our system can manage. So you put them on planes and you send them back.”
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