Com­merce sec­re­tary ‘ap­palled’

GA Voice - - Nationalnews -

Com­merce Sec. Wil­bur Ross is­sued a new non-dis­crim­i­na­tion policy last week, omit­ting ex­plicit as­sur­ances LGBT work­ers won’t face dis­crim­i­na­tion in his de­part­ment, prompt­ing out­cry that re­sulted in an up­dated ver­sion of the doc­u­ment mak­ing clear the pro­hi­bi­tion on anti-LGBT dis­crim­i­na­tion.

The 2017 Sec­re­tar­ial Policy State­ment on Equal Em­ploy­ment Op­por­tu­nity ini­tially found on the Com­merce De­part­ment’s web­site de­clared it won’t tol­er­ate dis­crim­i­na­tion on the ba­sis of race, color, re­li­gion, sex, na­tional ori­gin, age or dis­abil­ity. Omit­ted from the policy: sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity — two cat­e­gories that were in­cluded in the policy un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port in Buz­zFeed, the Ross policy state­ment was cir­cu­lated among de­part­ment staff on June 15. The new policy state­ment was posted within 10 days prior to then, Buz­zFeed re­ports, be­cause an archived view of the web­site from June 6 re­veals the 2016 LGBT-in­clu­sive state­ment was in­cluded. The Com­merce De­part­ment em­ploys nearly 47,000 work­ers, ac­cord­ing to its web­site.

David Stacy, the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign’s gov­ern­ment af­fairs di­rec­tor, said in a state­ment the omis­sion rep­re­sents “the Trump/Pence Ad­min­is­tra­tion ac­tively seek­ing to un­der­mine rights for LGBTQ peo­ple.”

“The Com­merce De­part­ment’s EEO state­ment is meant to in­form work­ers and ap­pli­cants about their le­gal pro­tec­tions,” Stacy said. “Cut­ting spe­cific men­tion of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity pro­tec­tions is a slap in the face to LGBTQ fed­eral em­ploy­ees who proudly serve at the De­part­ment of Com­merce, and sadly sig­nals that this ad­min­is­tra­tion does not value them.”

June 23, 2017

Af­ter ini­tial me­dia re­ports and out­cry over the omis­sion, the Com­merce De­part­ment sent out a new ver­sion of the non-dis­crim­i­na­tion policy June 16 with sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity specif­i­cally in­cluded.

A Com­merce De­part­ment spokesper­son said the omis­sion was “never in­tended to change the policy or ex­clude any pro­tected cat­e­gories” and in­sisted the de­part­ment doesn’t dis­crim­i­nate against LGBT peo­ple.

“I hope we can help peo­ple un­der­stand that the im­pres­sion this whole sit­u­a­tion gave peo­ple is re­ally not who Sec. Ross is,” the spokesper­son said. “As soon as this was brought to his at­ten­tion, he was ap­palled and di­rected im­me­di­ate ac­tion be taken to rec­tify any mis­con­cep­tions. From his first day at Com­merce, Sec. Ross has made clear that he will tol­er­ate no bias or dis­crim­i­na­tion of any sort.”

Even if the Com­merce De­part­ment no longer pro­hib­ited dis­crim­i­na­tion on the ba­sis of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity, LGBT work­ers there would still have pro­tec­tions un­der the ex­ec­u­tive or­der signed by Pres­i­dent Clin­ton bar­ring anti-gay dis­crim­i­na­tion in the

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