New Bill Makes Clear That Federal Employees Have Protection From Anti-Gay Discrimination

Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Chris Shays, R-Conn.,
introduced bipartisan legislation on June 30th that would clarify existing law
to ensure full enforcement of prohibitions against anti-gay
discrimination in the federal workforce. This legislation, cosponsored
by Reps. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Barney Frank, D-Mass., Mark Foley, R-Fla.,
Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., Danny Davis, D-Ill., and Jim
Kolbe, R-Ariz., is supported by the Human Rights Campaign, which has
been leading an effort to halt a rollback of protections in existence
since the Carter administration.

"President Bush and members of Congress should fight for the enforcement
of policies they already support," said HRC President Joe Solmonese.
"Although no law has changed, a rogue appointee is threatening to take
away rights that have existed for nearly three decades. We laud
Representatives Shays, Waxman and their colleagues for their efforts to
ensure there's no rollback in rights for federal employees."

Special Counsel Scott Bloch, who one of the federal agencies responsible
for investigating and settling claims of workplace discrimination,
recently indicated at a Senate hearing that he has no intention of
investigating or acting on certain claims of sexual orientation
discrimination from federal employees.

In April 2004, the White House released the following statement:
"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."

For more than two decades, a federal statute, the Civil Service Reform
Act of 1978, has been interpreted to prohibit discrimination based on
sexual orientation in the workplace for federal employees. This
legislation would clarify the protections of that law by explicitly
making discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation a prohibited
personnel practice under the Act.

"This legislation would end Scott Bloch's bogus assertions that federal
employees aren't free to enjoy the same non-discrimination protections
they have enjoyed for over 25 years. We call on the Congress to quickly
pass this bipartisan bill to prevent a further deterioration of
non-discrimination protections in the federal workforce and work to
enact legislation that protects the entire American workforce from
discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity," added
Solmonese.

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