US Dept of Justice ends 5 year homphobic practice
DOJ Ends Gay Group Ban
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: February 6, 2008 - 3:00 pm ET
(Washington) The Department of Justice has ended a five year old policy of denying an LGBT employee group the same privileges it offers other minority groups.
In 2003 then-Attorney General John Ashcroft told DOJ Pride that it could no longer hold its annual gay pride event on DOJ property. Ashcroft at the time said that it was Bush administration policy that only events that received a presidential proclamation could be held on government property.
Justice Department workers had celebrated Pride in the Great Hall of DOJ headquarters every June since the mid 1990s when President Bill Clinton first declared a Gay Pride Month. Bush has declined throughout his presidency to issue a proclamation.
Ashcroft also told the employee organization that it was barred from posting notices of its meetings on DOJ bulletin boards or distribute such messages through the department's e-mail system.
Ashcroft took the action a week after the Rev. Jerry Falwell issued a warning to President Bush and the Republican leadership to stop "catering to gays" or lose the support of Christian conservatives.
The ban on DOJ Pride continued under Alberto Gonzales.
The new Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, now has reversed that decision.
Mukasey has told DOJ Pride that DOJ will give the organization the same rights as all other DOJ employee groups. In a statement to the group Mukasey said that the department will "foster an environment in which diversity is valued, understood and sought."
At the time Ashcroft imposed the ban DOJ Pride had about 200 members. That is now down to 150 members.
Ashcroft was not alone in clamping down on LGBT federal workers.
Special Counsel Scott Bloch, the man responsible for protecting whistleblowers and investigating complaints of discrimination by federal workers, refused to take on complaints of discrimination based on sexuality.
Bloch's stonewalling complaints of discrimination by LGBT federal workers dates to February 2004 when he ordered references to sexual orientation removed from the Office of the Special Counsel website. Since 1998, when President Bill Clinton issued an executive order prohibiting bias in the civil service, the OSC has taken that to include sexuality.
A month after the references disappeared from the OSC website Bloch said gay workers were no longer protected.
After intense pressure from Federal Globe - the LGBT organization for federal civil servants - and from Democrats on The Hill, the White House said it would honor the Executive Order signed by Clinton that that had been taken as assurance LGBT workers had civil rights protections.
But with Bloch's approval, several union contracts negotiated with various branches of the government removed the list of categories that are protected replacing them with the more nebulous phrase "any class protected by law."
Appearing in May 2005, before the the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee on oversight of government management, the federal workforce and the District of Columbia, Bloch said that his interpretation of the Clinton executive order cannot be used to protect gay workers because it does not specifically name LGBT workers.
You have to smile at "Jerry Falwell issued a warning to President Bush and the Republican leadership to stop "catering to gays" or lose the support of Christian conservatives."
Only a twisted Jerry Falwell could complain about Bush & republicans "catering to gays".
Ashcrofts tenure was pure torture to the American justice system…