Press

Task Force blasts Bush administration for turning its back on protection for gay federal employees

Date: 
June 30, 2005

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force blasts Bush administration for turning its back on 30 years of nondiscrimination protections for gay federal employees

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
media@theTaskForce.org
646.358.1465

WASHINGTON, June 30 — For nearly 30 years, federal civil service law has been understood and enforced to protect federal employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In May, President Bush’s special counsel appointee, Scott Bloch, testified that the federal government lacked the legal authority to enforce these protections, which includes President Bill Clinton’s 1998 executive order stating it is unlawful to discriminate against federal employees based on their sexual orientation. Today, U.S. Reps. Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) and a bipartisan group of co-sponsors introduced the "Clarification of Federal Employment Protections Act" to affirm that federal employees are protected from employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and to eliminate any further bad-faith failure to enforce these protections.

What follows is a statement by Matt Foreman,
executive director National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

"Because of the Bush administration's arbitrary, unilateral and mean-spirited action, a bill in Congress is required to restore rights lesbian, gay and bisexual federal employees have held for more than two decades. Instead of being forced to try to recapture long-held rights, we should be building upon and expanding nondiscrimination protections. We deplore Scott Bloch's evident hostility to lesbian, gay and bisexual employees, and are appalled by the hypocrisy involved in President Bush publicly affirming these protections while allowing Bloch to gut them and remain in his job.

"We emphasize that this legislation seeks to restore a rollback of long-standing rights. Federal civil service protections will still fail to reliably protect transgender employees from discrimination.

"This sorry episode involving Bloch offers three important lessons.

"First, the Bush administration is disregarding the provisions of the federal employment law that stipulate that the only criteria for hiring, evaluation and adverse personnel actions are qualifications and job performance. For decades, both Democratic and Republican administrations have adhered to these fair and meritorious rules. The fact that this standard is now being tossed aside is yet another example of the extremist nature of this administration.

"Second, the administration's action demonstrates that unambiguous and inclusive legislative language is an absolute necessity to achieve reliable protection from discrimination. In this particular case, despite the nearly 30-year policy of employment protection on the basis of sexual orientation, the absence of express language has given Bloch the opportunity to arbitrarily turn a cold shoulder to that nondiscrimination policy. We ask those members of Congress who, in the context of hate crimes and nondiscrimination legislation, have resisted inclusion of the terms 'gender identity or expression' to protect transgender people, to reconsider their positions.

"And finally, this episode highlights the urgent need for clear and comprehensive federal legislation that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans from discrimination, whether or not they are employed by the federal government."

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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.