mixed messages

Obama Defends Government’s Right to Discriminate, But Only Sometimes


While President Obama won’t use his executive order power to halt the dismissals of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and he remains in defense of DOMA, he did sign a memo telling federal agencies to start spreading some benefits to federal employees in same-sex relationships. It’s resulted in a mish-mash of government sanctioned sexual and gender identity protections — and discrimination. All of which means: Folks like Dan Choi can still be dismissed from the military, but yesterday the White House opted not to defend its right to discriminate against federal employees based on gender identity.

The Obama administration decided not to challenge a $500,000 judgment in favor of Diane Schroer, a transgender woman (and Army vet) who sued the feds after a job at the Library of Congress was revoked when she notified her new bosses of her transition. The Bush administration, meanwhile, had argued unsuccessfully that discrimination based on gender identity did not violate Schroer’s civil rights. The Justice Department had until yesterday to appeal — and clearly Camp Obama decided to interpret the law differently from its predecessors.

Too bad, too, since the DoJ had such a grand opportunity to compare transgender Americans to sheep and aliens.