White House gay security clearance causes stir among Democrats

Danny McCoy | March 09, 2006

WASHINGTON D.C. — White House officials announced this week a revised policy granting security clearances to gays and lesbians will not reflect a change in how the government will treat sexual orientation.

But several Democrats are questioning the new wording, and taking the Bush administration to task for what they claim is discrimination.

�The Bush administration is waging a covert war on loyal federal employees who happen to be gay,� said US Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, the top Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee.

The administration redrafted 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.

In the updated language, security clearances cannot be denied �solely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the individual.�

Gay rights activists said the change could place added emphasis on sexual orientation and discrimination.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the language was changed in part because of a 1995 executive order aimed at preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation.

�There's no change in our policy,� McClellan said. �I think that they updated the language to reflect exactly what was spelled out in the executive order.�

According to the Boston Globe, two state politicians – Maine Senator Susan M. Collins, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Virginia Representative Tom Davis, who chairs the House Government Reform Committee – requested briefings on the issue.

Waxman and Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, said the revisions are being made as the administration refuses to enforce a policy that protects federal employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The administration has rejected the allegations. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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