Five years after a gay advocacy group was told that it could no longer use the e-mail, bulletin boards and meeting rooms at the Justice Department, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey has reversed that decision and issued a revised equal-employment-opportunity policy barring discrimination against any group.
Mukasey informed leaders of DOJ Pride last week that the department would give it the same rights as all other DOJ employee organizations, said the group's president, Chris Hook. In a statement, Mukasey said the department will "foster an environment in which diversity is valued, understood and sought" and maintain "an environment that's free of discrimination."
DOJ Pride and its 110 members had been barred from holding an annual Gay and Lesbian Pride Month celebration since 2003, when then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft told the group that the Bush administration observed an unwritten policy of not sponsoring events without a presidential proclamation, Hook said. The group also was told it could not post notices of general meetings and events on department bulletin boards, he said.
The policy continued under Ashcroft's successor, Alberto R. Gonzales, Hook said.
"I do not know of any other employee-recognized groups that were denied access under these same conditions," Hook said. As a result of "what some would term a hostile environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees, the membership rolls have suffered."
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
And that's treating gays in the Justice Department like they have the same rights as straights: