Postal Regulations Causes Stir

January 15, 1997

Some anti-gay, right wing political groups are concerned that new U.S. Postal Service regulations will regulate employees' off-duty conduct and have called on their members to contact the Postal Service in protest. Such interpretation of the regulation is patently incorrect. While no longer a federal agency, the Postal Inspection Service's action is one that falls in line with actions taken by most federal Cabinet-level Departments in making clear that discrimination on the job will not be tolerated. The provision does not seek to regulate off duty conduct.

The regulations, which apply to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the enforcement branch of the Postal Service are contained within a five page code of conduct. Signed last November, the anti-discrimination provision prohibits employees, acting in an official capacity, to directly or indirectly discriminate on the basis of age, gender, ethnic origin, physical or mental disability or sexual orientation. The regulation applies to the agency's 4,600 inspectors, police officers and support personnel who investigate crimes committed through the mail.

"The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is to be commended for joining with other federal, state and private employers who have adopted policies that prohibit discriminatory practices by its employees," stated NGLTF executive director Kerry Lobel. "State and local governments, as well as private employers, throughout the country have adopted similar non-discrimination policies which make clear that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by its employees is as onerous and unacceptable as other forms of discrimination," added Lobel.

The provision does not state or imply that employees must accept homosexuality or give up their rights to argue against pro-gay policies or actions. "It is interesting to note how concerned the right wing extremists, such as the American Family Association, are regarding the regulation of the private conduct of these employees. Yet, they are among the first to want to regulate the private lives of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered individuals," Lobel pointed out.


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.