The Feds: Trying To Have Their Gay and Eat It Too

Today brings this report from the AP:

The [Bush] administration rewrote a 1997 regulation that had said sexual orientation ''may not be used as a basis'' for denying clearances or determining whether individuals should be eligible to access classified information unless it could make them vulnerable to coercion or exploitation. President Bush's updated language says security clearances cannot be denied ''solely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the individual.''

One justification for the change is that a federal government employee who is gay but closeted "could be susceptible to coercion or blackmail." In this case, denial of a security clearance would not be due "solely" to the employee's orientation, but instead due to the employee's susceptibility to being blackmailed.

Okay, this seems logical enough. But on the other hand, the regulations accompanying the clearance guidelines provide that security concerns may be lessened in cases where the employee's sexual behavior is "strictly private, consensual and discreet."

So the feds are sending mixed signals. What's a gay government employee supposed to do? "Butch it up," keeping their sexual behavior "private" and "discreet"? Or "flame out" -- perhaps by showing up to work in a pink feather boa, which sends an unmistakable message of "Blackmail this, girlfriend!"

White House Alters Security Rules for Gays [AP]

Bush vs. Gays, Part XXXVII [Andrew Sullivan]


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