Following testimony on Tuesday in which special Counsel Scott Bloch, the federal employee responsible for investigating workplace discrimination, stated that he believes federal workers are not protected against discrimination based on sexual orientation, a number of gay rights groups have been calling for the Bush appointee's resignation. Bloch's statements diverge from 30 years of federal policy that safeguards gay and lesbian employees and contradicts an executive order issued by President Clinton and supported by President Bush, they argue.
"Scott Bloch has made it clear that he is not enforcing the law and is openly defying the president; accordingly he should resign immediately," said Chris Barron, political director for the gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans.
"Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays stands with the gay and lesbian civil servants of the United States government," said Jody Huckaby, the group's executive director. "We believe they should not have to suffer discrimination, hide their sexual orientation, or face an uncertain future at work. Bloch's antigay stance has taken us backward 30 years, rather than maintaining the federal government's advances for fairness and equality in the workplace."
Bloch had previously raised doubts about his willingness to protect gay federal employees and was criticized for removing references to sexual orientation from the Office of Special Counsel's Web site, and for allegedly failing to protect a gay federal employee who blew the whistle on another employee. But Tuesday's testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on the federal workforce made clear that Bloch planned simply to disregard the executive order protecting gays.
"Many of us who disagree with President Bush on a wide range of issues were pleased when he announced that he would adhere to the policy set forward by President Clinton to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workforce," said gay U.S. representative Barney Frank. "In fact, when this policy was challenged after its promulgation by President Clinton in 1998, the House voted by a 252 to 176 majority to affirm it. President Bush's continuation of this policy marked an important step in establishing a consensus on basic fairness in the United States. What Scott Bloch has done now is to shatter this agreement that employment in the federal workforce should be based solely on merit, and he has also unfortunately raised questions about the sincerity of President Bush's commitment, since he is a Bush appointee to the position that enforces this. It is essential that the president act promptly to do what is necessary to see that the policy he has announced is in fact enforced by his appointee."