Oct 23 2007

Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI) grilled Michael Mukasey, President Bush’s nominee for Attorney General, about internal Justice Department policies related to the LGBT community. Once again Feingold, who openly supports marriage equality, has championed the rights of LGBT citizens. Here is the exchange that took place between Feingold and Mukasey last Thursday.

FeingoldFEINGOLD: Judge, as is the case in every federal agency, of all three branches of government, there are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered Americans serving honorably and effectively at the Department of Justice.

The department sponsor commemorative events to recognize the contributions of various minority groups, but under Attorney General Ashcroft and Gonzales, in contrast to Attorney General Reno, it has refused to do so for the GLBT Americans.

In addition, while Department of Justice Pride, an organization of GLBT employees, is permitted to use department space to hold events, it is prohibited from advertising those events on public billboards, in department buildings, again, unlike organizations for minority employees at the department.

Similarly, the department refuses to recruit at job fairs aimed at GLBT attorneys but sends recruiters to job fairs aimed at other minority groups.

I am troubled by this. I suppose there is not much to be done about this administration's attitude toward gays and lesbians, but as Attorney General you would have the power to end this shameful conduct.

FEINGOLD: Will you stop the disparate treatment of gay and lesbian employees at Department of Justice?

MUKASEY: I don't understand the reason for that treatment. When I was a district judge I interviewed and hired without regard to any matter relating to the personal life of a prospective law clerk, any matter of that kind. And I see no reason why there should be any different standard at the department.

FEINGOLD: I will take that as saying that you will stop the disparate treatment of gay and lesbian employees at Department of Justice.

MUKASEY: Sounds like I'm going to.

FEINGOLD: Pardon me?

MUKASEY: Sounds like I'm going to.

FEINGOLD: Sounds good to me. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.