According to a news release from Log Cabin, Scott J. Bloch, Special Counsel at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, testified before the Senate yesterday that “he did not believe current law protects federal employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
To be sure, his belief represents one interpretation of the law, but an interpretation at odds with the policy of the Bush Administration. And at odds with President Clinton’s Executive Order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in the federal workforce. Despite pressure from social conservatives, President Bush kept his campaign promise not to repeal this order.
Not only that. Last year, the White House reiterated its understanding that “federal policy prohibits discrimination against federal employees based on sexual orientation.” (An attempt to overturn this Executive Order by statute was defeated by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in 1998.)
That order merely codified long-standing federal policy. More than twenty years ago, Bush Administration Solicitor General Ted Olsen said, “it is improper to deny employment to or to terminate anyone on the basis of sexual preference or conduct that does not adversely affect job performance.?
If Mr. Bloch is unwilling to enforce this long-standing federal policy, supported by the president and conservative jurists, then Log Cabin is right to call on him to resign his office.
UPDATE: Blog reader Mr. Moderate linked me to this “WASHINGTON POST” article on Mr. Bloch’s testimony. After reading that article, it is clear that Bloch has based his belief on the fact that since no federal law bars discrimination based on sexual orientation, his office lacks a mechanism to enforce the Executive Order and longstanding policy.
Yet, if I recall my Administative Law class correctly, while Mr. Bloch’s office may not be able to prosecute federal officials who discriminate based on sexual orientation, it should be able to reprimand them for such discrimination and protect the employee claiming discrimination.