Thursday, April 01, 2004

Know Bush Fact #18

Based on the belief that the truth shall set you free:

While the spotlight is focused on the heightened drama of gay marriage, the Bush administration is withdrawing protection for federal employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Last year, Bush nominated Scott Bloch as head of the U.S. Office of the Special Counsel, to start in January 2004. Mr. Bloch is the former Deputy Director of the Justice Department’s Task Force for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. He was a research fellow for the Claremont Institute, an ultra-conservative think tank in California which boasts of "fighting the gay rights initiative." He has hired at least two religious conservative advocates to his staff and offered the #2 post at the OSC to Prof. Robert Carlson of Casper College, Wyoming, known for helping to form an anti-gay campus group.

In February 2004, Bloch removed from the OSC’s printed documents, training slide show, and website all references to discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workforce being illegal.

Bloch doesn’t believe the 1978 law, intended to protect federal employees and job applicants from adverse personnel actions taken against them for reasons unrelated to their job performance, has to be applied to discrimination based on sexual orientation — as it has since 1999.

Bloch argues that there is a distinction between one’s conduct as a gay or lesbian and one’s status as a gay or lesbian. "Someone may have jumped to the conclusion that conduct equals sexual orientation, but they are essentially very different. One is a class... and one is a behavior," Bloch said in a March 10 interview with Federal Times.

Bloch does not equate conduct based on sexual orientation with sexual orientation itself. Such a link would mean gays, lesbians and bisexuals are covered as a protected class, even though they are not protected under the nation’s civil rights laws.

Bloch’s predecessor at the OSC, Washington attorney Elaine Kaplan, called his reading of the law, "dead wrong."

"A member of George Bush's administration is altering decades of federal employment policy based on some of the shoddiest legal reasoning I have seen in my professional career," said Rep. Elliot L. Engel, New York Democrat, in a press conference.

To verify/search, Google: Bush +Bloch +gay

- April 2, 2004

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