Comedian John Fugelsang clashed with conservative radio host Heidi Harris on Friday when Harris questioned the need for sexual orientation to be covered under anti-discrimination statutes.
“Being gay is what sets a person apart from straight people,” Fugelsang told Harris on MSNBC’s Ed Show. “If you don’t like gay people, take it up with the manufacturer, because God keeps creating them around the world.”
“Did I say I didn’t like gay people?” Harris shot back. “I did not say that.”
“Well, stick up for them, Heidi,” he countered. “You’re a nice person.”
Harris argued that in the workplace, only a person’s behavior could set them apart, proving that non-discrimination statutes like one that was voted down by North Dakota legislators on Thursday were unnecessary.
“Why are we protecting a certain group of people because of their behavior?” Harris asked at one point, causing Fugelsang to facepalm. “Not only that, but how do you prove someone didn’t get hired because they were gay? You can’t prove that any more than you can prove somebody didn’t get hired because of their age or their sex.”
“Being gay is behavior?” host Ed Schultz asked, cutting Harris off.
“Of course it is,” she replied.
Schultz pointed out that, because of the defeat of Senate Bill 2279, the state’s LGBT community can lose not only employment, but housing opportunities because of their gender or sexuality.
“You can do that in North Dakota now, Heidi,” Fugelsang said.
“They could have done it in North Dakota two weeks ago,” Harris countered. “Was anybody suing about that?”
Harris then argued that there has been no evidence of abusing state law for the purposes of anti-gay discrimination in the past 22 years.
“You might not realize this, but sometimes straight people are mean to gay people,” Fugelsang said to her. “That’s why gay people have needed more protection.”
“Wow, there’s a sweeping statement — all straight people are mean, and all gay people are perfect,” she countered, reinterpreting Fugelsang’s words.
The anti-discrimination measure in North Dakota was voted down even after being split into two provisions on Thursday. The head of the state House Human Services Committee, Rep. Robin Weisz (R), said the committee “did not receive any testimony that showed any outright discrimination going on,” a contention that was shot down by Fargo activist Bernie Erickson.
“Probably the most recent discrimination that I experienced was last week, when I testified before the [committee],” Erickson told Schultz, saying that Weisz tried to cut testimony down for supporters of the measure before downplaying the accounts of more than 30 people who traveled from around the state to share their brushes with anti-LGBT discrimination.
“The level of contempt of our elected leaders is just unbelievable in North Dakota,” Erickson said. “We are the only state that has not had a ruling on our marriage equality lawsuit. It’s unbelievable. It’s unacceptable, and this does not reflect the ideals of North Dakota citizens.”