As ThinkProgress noted yesterday, Michael Guest — the first openly gay man to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as a U.S. Ambassador — resigned from the State Department last month, “in order to protest rules and regulations that he believes are unfair to the same-sex partners of Foreign Service officers.” Guest said he chose to resign after “absolutely nothing…resulted from” his direct appeals to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for policy changes.
The State Department is not the only branch of the Bush administration that explicitly discriminates against gay and lesbian employees. In 2003, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft barred DOJ Pride, an organization of almost 200 gay and lesbian employees of the Justice Department, from holding “an annual event celebrating ‘gay pride month’ at the agency’s headquarters” while allowing other employee groups to do so.
Though the decision was eventually reversed after pressure from gay rights groups and members of Congress, the Department has continued other discriminatory policies. During his confirmation hearing, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey if he would “stop the disparate treatment of gay and lesbian employees” at DOJ:
The department sponsors commemorative events to recognize the contributions of various minority groups, but under Attorney General Ashcroft and Gonzales, in contrast to Attorney General Reno, it has refused to do so for the GLBT Americans.
In addition, while DOJ Pride, an organization of GLBT employees, is permitted to use department space to hold events, it is prohibited from advertising those events on public billboards, in department buildings, again, unlike organizations for minority employees at the department.
Similarly, the department refuses to recruit at job fairs aimed at GLBT attorneys but sends recruiters to job fairs aimed at other minority groups.
Responding to Feingold, Mukasey said that he couldn’t “understand the reason for that treatment” and that he was “going to” do something about it. But Mukasey is unlikely to feel pressure from the President to follow through on his promise.
Not only has the administration threatened to veto legislation barring employment discrimination based on sexual identity, but President Bush has refused throughout his tenure to even observe June as Gay Pride Month.