Clinton Bans Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Security Clearances
WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton ended more than 40 years of government policy that assumed homosexuals to be security risks who could not be trusted with official secrets.
Homosexual rights groups Friday praised Clinton’s order ending discrimination based on sexual orientation in granting security clearances.
Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign Fund, called it ``an important step toward ending governmentally sanctioned job discrimination against gay and lesbian people.″
But Rep. Bob Dornan, a long-shot candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, called Clinton’s action ``something else he didn’t have to do that’s gotten in our face.″
``I wouldn’t trust them with a $5 loan, let alone the nation’s secrets,″ Dornan, R-Calif., said of homosexuals, whom he also labeled ``promiscuous by definition.″
The 13-page order adds the words ``sexual orientation″ to the non-discrimination clause covering access to classified material. It also states, ``No inference concerning the standards in this section may be raised solely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the employee.″
The order establishes the first uniform standards for U.S. agencies in granting security clearances and it requires federal agencies to recognize each other’s security clearances.
An executive order has the force of law, but it can be overturned by Congress.
A requirement for federal employees who handle classified information to be trustworthy grew out of a loyalty program established by President Truman in 1947, a time of growing concern over communism. Executive Order 10450 modified the loyalty program in 1953 and, for the first time, included ``sexual perversion″ as a basis for removal from the federal service.
Federal agencies used the sexual perversion standard to label homosexuals as security risks. It was not until 1975 that the Civil Service Commission issued guidelines prohibiting the government from denying jobs to people on the basis of sexual orientation. But policies regarding security clearances for homosexuals remained vague or restrictive until the early 1990s.