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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Wednesday, 17 March 2004

Topic: The Law

The law is what you say the law is...

In a companion piece to the item below regarding Dayton "Scopes Trial" Tennessee, one might note this.

LGBT Federal Workers Lose Job Protections
Paul Johnson, Newscenter Washington Bureau Chief - Posted: March 17, 2004 2:01 p.m. ET

Here's the scoop:

(Washington, D.C.) Gay and lesbians in the entire federal workforce have had their job protections officially removed by the office of Special Counsel. The new Special Counsel, Scott Bloch, says his interpretation of a 1978 law intended to protect employees and job applicants from adverse personnel actions is that gay and lesbian workers are not covered.

Bloch said that the while a gay employee would have no recourse for being fired or demoted for being gay, that same worker could not be fired for attending a gay Pride event.

In his interpretation, Bloch is making a distinction between one's conduct as a gay or lesbian and one's status as a gay or lesbian.

"People confuse conduct and sexual orientation as the same thing, and I don't think they are," Bloch said in an interview with Federal Times, a publication for government employees.

Bloch said gays, lesbians and bisexuals cannot be covered as a protected class because they are not protected under the nation's civil rights laws.

"When you're interpreting a statute, you have to be very careful to interpret strictly according to how it's written and not get into loose interpretations," Bloch said.

"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 behavior."

It is the first time that Bloch has explained his position on the issue of gay workers despite pressure from unions and Federal Globe an organization that represents LGBT government workers after the OSC began removing references to sexual orientation-based discrimination from its complaint form, the OSC basic brochure, training slides and a two-page flier entitled "Your Rights as a Federal Employee."

Bloch's position is a marked departure from how the previous special counsel, Elaine Kaplan, enforced the law. "The legal position that he is taking, that there is some distinction between discrimination based on sexual orientation and discrimination based on conduct, is absurd," Kaplan told Federal Times.

Bloch indicated that he may amend his position. He said he is initiating a review of the issue and plans to meet with the Office of Personnel Management and congressional staff to hear their opinions before making a final decision on how his office will handle complaints alleging sexual orientation discrimination. The review will not get completely under way until next month, when Bloch's senior legal adviser begins work, he said.

Bloch was appointed by President Bush to a five year term beginning in January.
Clear enough?

Because I am not gay - by nature I am actually rather morose and gloomy - I suppose this should not bother me. But it does.

The special counsel here is reversing the position of the federal government. You can be fired for being a homosexual - it's quit legal. The previous special counsel had it wrong? Guess so.

For the sake of argument, let's assume homosexuality is a condition one finds one simply has, like left-handedness or having red hair. That is to assume homosexuality is not something one chooses as a "lifestyle" - it is simply what is. Should "having that condition" be necessary and sufficient cause for dismissal from your job - even if having "that condition" alone is the one, and only, determining cause? It would seem so.

Well, it doesn't seem fair. But then again, homosexual folks seem to make the majority of mainstream, born-again Christian Americans very uncomfortable. Something must be done, they believe.

It seems to me we live in a dangerous world. There are the terrorists out to get us. Forty-four million folks are without health insurance. Thirty-five million folks live below the poverty line. Jobs are hard to get - the percentage of adults working is the lowest it has been in forty or fifty years. And there's global warming and AIDS (SIDA) and lot of things to worry about.

Worrying about gay marriages and spending time making sure we can fire folks for being born a bit different than John Ashcroft - or so I'm assuming about him - just seems pointlessly mean.

Or maybe I just miss the point.

Posted by Alan at 20:47 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

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