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Solis chastizes employees for defacing gay pride posters at the Department of Labor.

By Nate Carlile  

"Solis chastizes employees for defacing gay pride posters at the Department of Labor."

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hildasolisLate last week, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis issued a warning letter to department employees after office posters celebrating Gay Pride Month were defaced or removed. ThinkProgress obtained the Solis e-mail sent to the department’s entire staff. Solis, who helped found the House’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Caucus, wrote she was “particularly pleased to have the opportunity to be the first Secretary in the department’s history to publicly recognize Pride Month”:

“It appears, however, that some members of the Labor Department team have a different view, as it has come to my attention that most of the posters have been continually defaced or removed. On several occasions, even the poster frames have been torn completely off the elevator walls. [...]

I do not believe these actions represent the majority of our employees, so I refuse to let this situation define us. But I do want to make myself absolutely clear: Respect for others is non-negotiable at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Solis added the Gay Pride posters will be immediately replaced if they are damaged or removed. Full e-mail below:

From: Secretary Hilda Solis
Sent: Friday, June 26, 2009 1:40 PM
Subject: Proud of Pride

Dear Colleagues:

On June 1st, I initiated an elevator poster campaign in the Frances Perkins Building, with the goal of recognizing department initiatives and accomplishments, and to share my thoughts and priorities with the entire DOL team. We are currently exploring ways to provide the same information to BLS and to our regional offices.

Something else far more important also happened on June 1st. The President issued a proclamation recognizing June as national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. I was excited to have an opportunity, through our poster campaign, to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of the LGBT community and affirm our commitment to all workers across the country. The posters went up in the elevators on Monday.

As a founding member of the LGBT Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, I was particularly pleased to have the opportunity to be the first Secretary in the department’s history to publicly recognize Pride Month. I am very proud of that.

It appears, however, that some members of the Labor Department team have a different view, as it has come to my attention that most of the posters have been continually defaced or removed. On several occasions, even the poster frames have been torn completely off the elevator walls.

My reaction to this news has ranged from disappointment to outrage.

I do not believe these actions represent the majority of our employees, so I refuse to let this situation define us. But I do want to make myself absolutely clear: Respect for others is non-negotiable at the U.S. Department of Labor.

As the enforcer of fair and safe workplaces across the country, each and every one of us must be committed to working with all employers and employees, no matter their race, color, religion or sexual orientation. And as colleagues, each and every one of us must embrace, value, and celebrate the contributions of the entire Labor Department family.

The posters will stay up until the end of the month, and will be replaced immediately if they are removed or destroyed. This is a small way to remind everyone here how I, and most of our colleagues, feel about this issue.

We will continue to recognize and celebrate diversity at the U.S. Department of Labor, through the posters in the elevators, as well as education initiatives, special observances and events. I would very much like to hear your suggestions and thoughts on how we do this, as well as how we constructively address this specific issue at the department.

As always, I appreciate your efforts on behalf of working people across the country. And I wish each and every one of you a very happy Pride Month.

Hilda L. Solis

U.S. Secretary of Labor

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