Quoting a 2006 Texas Law Review article titled “Where Everything Old Is New Again — Enduring Episodic Discrimination Against Homosexual Persons,” by Edward L. Tulin, the brief said that “the State Department, for example, charged ‘skilled investigators’ with ‘interrogating every potential male applicant to discover if they had any effeminate tendencies or mannerisms,’ used polygraphs on individuals accused of homosexuality who denied it, and sent inspectors ‘to every embassy, consulate, and mission’ to uncover homosexuality.”
Citing research by the Williams Institute, the Justice Department said: “In order to identify gays and lesbians in the civil service, the FBI ‘sought out state and local police officers to supply arrest records on morals charges, regardless of whether there were convictions.’ ”
The FBI was aided by the U.S. Postal Service, which, according to Justice and the Williams Institute, established “a watch list on the recipients of physique magazines. . . . The end result was thousands of men and women forced from their federal jobs based on the suspicion that they were gay or lesbian.”
The extent of the change is demonstrated, to cite one example, by the fact that the current director of the Office of Personnel Management, John Berry, is an openly gay man.
Yet, protections against sexual orientation discrimination “are only effective if the federal workforce knows they exist and how to make use of them,” said Brian Moulton, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign. “Under the Obama administration and the leadership of John Berry at OPM, there has been a concerted effort to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender federal workers, as well as their managers and colleagues, know that they have the right to be treated fairly, and have recourse if they are not.”
Staff researcher Alice R. Crites contributed to this report.
Previous columns by Joe Davidson are at wapo.st/JoeDavidson. Follow the Federal Diary on Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP.