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Old 06-07-2003, 11:25 AM   #1
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Ashcroft bans DOJ gay pride event

Yet another reason I may be leaving the Republican party this year



Saturday, June 7, 2003

Ashcroft's ban on gay event gets mixed reaction
Critics say attorney general is backing off promise. Conservatives support him.

By ERIC LICHTBLAU
The New York Times


WASHINGTON Democrats and civil-rights advocates on Friday condemned the Justice Department for banning a gay-pride event for employees at the department, and they called on Attorney General John Ashcroft to reverse the decision.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., told Ashcroft in a letter Friday that he found the decision "unconscionable" at a department charged with protecting civil rights, and he promised to propose legislation if the Justice Department did not allow the event to take place.

But conservative groups opposed to gay rights rallied to Ashcroft's defense over an issue that has revived questions about his stance on homosexuality.

A group of several hundred gay and lesbian Justice Department employees, called DOJ Pride, budgeted $600 to hold an awards ceremony on June 18 at the department's Great Hall to commemorate Gay Pride Month. The group held similar events at the department each of the last six years, members said, and Ashcroft's top deputy spoke at last year's event.

But Justice Department officials told the group it could not hold the event at the department this year because of a new policy prohibiting events not recognized by White House proclamations.

President Bush has approved several hundred proclamations, recognizing events like National African American History Month, National Prayer Day and Leif Ericson Day.

But Bush, unlike former President Bill Clinton, has declined to recognize Gay Pride Month, and the White House said Friday that he has no plans to do so this year either.

"The president believes everybody ought to be treated with dignity and respect, but he does not believe we should be politicizing people's sexual orientation," said Scott McClellan, a spokesman. "Beyond that, it's a matter for the Justice Department."

Officials at the Justice Department's equal-employment-opportunity office acknowledged on Friday that the office notified the employee group of the decision regarding the gay-pride event, but they referred all questions to the Justice Department's public-affairs office. Officials there refused to discuss the decision.

Gay associations at many federal agencies have held gay-pride events in recent years. Employees at the Commerce Department and a few other agencies have complained about not receiving enough administrative support, but this is the first time any agency has blocked a gay group from using the premises, said Leonard Hirsch, president of Federal GLOBE, a gay and lesbian association.

"There's a political calculation going on here by the Justice Department, and they figure they gain more with the conservative right than they lose by discriminating against gays and lesbians," he said.

The Justice Department's decision set off quick reaction from groups on both sides of the gay-rights issue.

Ashcroft, a deeply religious man and a social conservative, was known for his strong views against homosexuality during his days in the Senate. He said he considered homosexuality a sin, and he opposed legislation extending hate crimes laws to cover gays.

But during his confirmation hearings in 2001 he pledged not to tolerate discrimination against homosexuals in the Justice Department. Critics said Friday that the decision to ban the gay-pride event amounted to Ashcroft backpedaling from that vow.

Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., noted in a statement Friday that he specifically asked Ashcroft during his confirmation about DOJ Pride's use of government facilities. Ashcroft testified that he had "no intent to treat this group differently than any other."

In his letter, Lautenberg called the decision to block the event "outrageous." Noting that conservative groups have lobbied federal agencies to ban gay pride events at government facilities, Lautenberg said "the possibility that the department would put the wishes of groups with a political agenda ahead of the civil rights of its own employees is unconscionable."

The American Civil Liberties Union charged that the decision could violate the Justice Department's own anti-discrimination policies. A Justice Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity denied that the decision violates any anti-discrimination policies, but the ACLU said it was considering a legal challenge.

"I think Ashcroft has gone out on a legal limb on this, and he's certainly trashed his own personal word in the process," said Matt Coles, director of the ACLU's Gay and Lesbian Rights Project.

But Sandy Rios, president of a conservative Christian group called Concerned Women for America, said "homosexuality is immoral" and added she was grateful Ashcroft had taken such a "courageous step to stand against the pressure of the politically correct elite."
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Old 06-07-2003, 12:08 PM   #2
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God, Ashcroft's a jack@ss.

If they can recognize all the other various months/events/whatever else, then they can recognize this.

Geez.

Angela
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Old 06-07-2003, 12:33 PM   #3
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words cannot describe how much i loathe that man.
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Old 06-07-2003, 12:35 PM   #4
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Old 06-07-2003, 01:08 PM   #5
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If only we could vote Ashcroft out of office...
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Old 06-07-2003, 01:08 PM   #6
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I'm disgusted, although not suprised by this. I'm also disgusted that Bush refuses to recognise Gay Pride month - that comment about not making a political point out of someone's sexuality is simply a cover for blatant homophobia. Do we refuse to celebrate Black history month for fear of politicizing 'race'? Do we refuse to allow women to celebrate women's achievements for fear of politicizing gender? Of course not - so why on earth shouldn't lesbian and gay people celebrate Gay Pride month?

BAW - I know I can't try to tell you what political party you should belong to, but I honestly think if you find homophobia offensive then the Republican party isn't the best place to be. Of course I'm not in any way suggesting that all individual members of the party are homophobic, but I do think many extremely influential people in it's leadership (ie Ashcroft, Senator Santorum) are horribly homophobic. In addition that, many of the conservative groups which the Republican party depends on for support are extremely homophobic, and I think that means there is always a tendency for the party to make concessions to their agenda. That's just my opinion though.
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Old 06-07-2003, 02:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by paxetaurora
If only we could vote Ashcroft out of office...
you can and should in 2004.



please do not vote for Nader.
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Old 06-07-2003, 03:10 PM   #8
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I see Ashcroft got tired of Rumsfeld being at the top of my hated list, so now he's trying really hard to make up the difference.
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Old 06-07-2003, 03:29 PM   #9
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I read that the Greens are actually considering endorsing a Democrat in 2004, which should make a powerful statement about *just* *how* *bad* things are.
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Old 06-07-2003, 03:39 PM   #10
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I've heard that too. As I understood it, they're not planning to endorse anyone during the primaries, but they will endorse the Democratic candidate if it's someone they like. I heard that rumour a few weeks back though, so things may well have changed since then.
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Old 06-07-2003, 04:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by paxetaurora
I read that the Greens are actually considering endorsing a Democrat in 2004, which should make a powerful statement about *just* *how* *bad* things are.
I've read that also. It's called the ABBA party. They will endorse whoever comes out of the convention as the candidate.

Anybody But Bush Again
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Old 06-08-2003, 03:40 PM   #12
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I despise Ashcroft. I knew he'd do things like this. Yuck.
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Old 06-08-2003, 04:24 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by FizzingWhizzbees
I'm also disgusted that Bush refuses to recognise Gay Pride month
now, I'm not a fan of Bush
but I would have been surprised if he would have recognized it Gay Pride month as it would be total contradictory to the way he seems to think about the gay community

though Bush his point of view on this subject is one that I do not agree with at least he's sticking by it instead of trying to appear more open to homosexuality then he really is

I agree with you though in that I also don't believe that he does this because he doesn't want to make a political point out of someone's sexuality
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Old 06-08-2003, 06:08 PM   #14
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I think Fizzie is right -- if you don't want to politicize sexual orientation, don't politicize other things then.

As for Ashcroft, I lived in Missouri when he was a senator. During my time at college, students tried to add sexual orientation to the university's non-discrimination clause. It was rejected by the Board of Curators despite a large amount of support from both straight and gay students. The reason they did this was because of the conservative groups in the state and conservative state politicians who threatened cuts in the school's budget. Also, the curators are officials appointed by the governor to represent the tax payers of Missouri. Say what you want about Ashcroft but the guy came to power with votes from ultra conservative right wingers in his state.

That being said, also remember that he lost to a dead guy......
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Old 06-08-2003, 06:24 PM   #15
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Is it illegal to punch the attorney general in the stomach? Because if it IS legal, why doesn't somebody do everyone a favor and......

Wait! I was only kidding. --->

Where are you taking me?! I was only making a point....you know?

Awwwww? Stop hitting me on the head with that baseball bat. This isn't legal is it?

Come on?!?!?! Are you seriously hitting me on the head with a corked bat? ----- How timely is that? (LOL....I mean, ouch that hurts!)

Silence

Silence....

That shut me up!
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