The DOJ is not a good place to work if you're gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender — but it's unlikely that Trump's attorney general will do anything about it.
LGBT employees at the Department of Justice are leaving the agency thanks to a culture that discriminates against them and demoralizes them.
They have confronted Attorney General William Barr about it — but Barr's views on LGBT rights are as bad as those of his boss, Trump.
DOJ Pride, the LGBT group at the agency, sent a letter to Barr outlining their concerns. Morale among LGBT employees is low, a DOJ pride survey found, for a variety of reasons.
Sadly, it should come as no surprise that one concern expressed was that the DOJ is "no longer the welcoming, inclusive environment for LGBTQ employees that it once was.” Additionally, gay male FBI agents said men "are dismissed because they are not ‘bro-y’ or masculine enough.”
The letter also pointed out that since Trump's people took over the DOJ — first Jeff Sessions, now Barr — the agency has never even issued an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statement. Those statements are required for each agency and serve as a "critical affirmation of an agency's rights and values."
The DOJ website still has the EEO from Loretta Lynch, who served as President Barack Obama's attorney general in his second term. Lynch's EEO affirmed that no DOJ employee would be discriminated against based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
But in the Trump era, even when LGBT and other employee groups specifically asked Jeff Sessions to issue an EEO, he ignored them.
There's no reason to believe things will get better under Bill Barr.
His conservative views about sexual morality have always been evident. When he was still attorney general under George H.W. Bush, he gave speeches complaining about things like an "assault on traditional values" thanks to "permissiveness, sexual revolution, and the drug culture."
In 1995, he wrote a law review article protesting Washington D.C.'s efforts to make Georgetown University recognize what Barr called "homosexual activist groups."
The passage of time doesn't seem to have changed these views. Right after Sessions resigned at Trump's insistence in late 2018, Barr co-wrote an op-ed praising Sessions for withdrawing policies which had expanded gender identity protections, and thanked him for participating in cases where the DOJ argued that businesses shouldn't have to "participate in activities that would violate their religious beliefs."
Finally, when Barr was asked about that 1995 law review article during his confirmation hearing earlier this year, he refused to answer a question about whether homosexuality was immoral. Instead, he went on to expound about how there needed to be "accommodation to religion."
With this long and public anti-gay history, it seems unlikely that Barr will do anything to support the LGBT employees who work for him.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.