LGBT Bush Called On To Enforce Gay Civil Service Protections

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    Bush Called On To Enforce Gay Civil Service Protections
    by Doreen Brandt Washington Bureau

    Posted: June 7, 2005 8:00 pm ET

    (Washington) An organization of LGBT federal workers Tuesday called on President Bush to rein in Special Counsel Scott Bloch.

    Despite assurances from the White House that LGBT workers remain covered against workplace discrimination by a Clinton presidency Executive Order, Bloch maintains there are no such protections.

    The Office of the Special Counsel is responsible for ensuring equity for federal employees.

    Last week Boch told a Senate Committee that he cannot protect LGBT employees because no law exists to allow him to so. (story)

    In a joint letter to the President Tuesday, Federal Globe and the Human Rights Campaign ask Bush to address the statements made by Bloch.

    "Mr. Bloch is ignoring the anti-discrimination directive from the White House," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "The Bush Administration has clearly stated its support for the enforcement of sexual orientation discrimination protections. Now, the White House has to either ask Bloch to change his policy position, or step down."

    Bloch has been under fire for more than year for stonewalling complaints of discrimination by LGBT federal workers.

    In February 2004 he ordered references to sexual orientation removed from the Office of the Special Counsel website. (story) 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. (story)

    In his appearance last week before the the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee on oversight of government management, the federal workforce and the District of Columbia, Bloch was grilled by Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.).

    Bloch told Levin that despite the Clinton Executive Order and the Bush administration's pledge to honor it, "We are limited by our enforcement statutes as Congress gives them."

    Levin then reminded him of the statement issued by the White House last year that said, "Longstanding federal policy prohibits discrimination against federal employees based on sexual orientation. President Bush expects federal agencies to enforce this policy and to ensure that all federal employees are protected from unfair discrimination at work."

    Levin asked Bloch if he did not believe the President's statement was binding on him. Bloch is a Bush appointee.

    "It is binding on me," Bloch said, "but it is not something I can prosecute in my agency. . . . I am limited by the enforcement statutes that you give me."

    "We no longer believe that gay Federal employees can trust Mr. Bloch to fairly and impartially enforce the longstanding interpretation of personnel law that would protect against discriminatory actions based on sexual orientation, said Federal Globe President Len Hirsch.

    "He persists in confusing civil rights law and the concept of "protected classes" with the civil service law -- a law that has been interpreted under both Democratic and Republican administrations to provide protections to Federal employees against personnel actions based on sexual orientation -- most critically hiring and firing."

    The White House said it will have no comment on the letter until the President receives it.

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