A reader writes:
"With regard to your item on sexual orientation and security clearances, I too am troubled by the change in language. But I can see an innocuous explanation for this - maybe they thought the previous language was too restrictive in terms of allowing the government to disqualify people who engage in irresponsible sexual behavior (eg. cruising, going to bathhouses, or the like - straight people are also usually disqualified if they go to swingers' clubs or engage in wife-swapping.) Whereas more responsible sexual behavior would seem to fall under the "strictly private, consensual, and discreet" banner.
Also, speaking from personal experience, I have several openly gay friends who hold high-level security clearances, including one who has the highest level of clearance and lives with his long-term partner. So far I haven't heard anything about them losing clearance. But really the only way to calm the concerns about this is for the Administration to come out and say specifically what behavior is allowed and disallowed under the new regulation. And sadly, in the current political environment I can't see the Administration making any public statement that even indirectly approves of homosexuality. So, unfortunately we'll have to wait and see if they start turning away gays and lesbians for security clearances before making a final judgment."
Agreed. You can hope for the best. But vigilance is now more necessary than ever. I'm afraid I've given up hoping for decent treatment of homosexual citizens in this administration. How many other significant American minorities will the president of the United States never be seen addressing or even meeting? If you make a conservative estimate of 9 million gay Americans, isn't it astonishing that the president has never been seen in a public event with any of them? And that no one in the administration has ever talked with a gay representative in public? This may not be because Bush is personally bigoted toward gay people. There's evidence he isn't. But even appearing with an openly gay person in public would prompt a small revolution in his base. And so gays are the only minority this administration treats as "untouchables." Policy is made with regard to us - like barring our relationships in the constitution - and it never even occurs to Karl Rove to consult with any gay people about it. We're so used to this radical exclusion from our own president, regardless of whether we're Republican or Democrat or other, that we don't even notice it any more. But it is amazing when you think about it. And telling.