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Friday, June 13, 2003

New York Times Editorializes about Ashcroft and Gay Pride

The Justice Department may be violating the law, including its own rules against discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. Senator Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, has called for the Committee on Governmental Affairs to see whether any civil rights or civil laws have been broken. He also wants it to investigate whether the department engaged in a cover-up when it denied ever telling DOJ Pride its event had to be canceled.

These actions would be unacceptable if Mr. Ashcroft were postmaster general. But as attorney general, he is responsible for fighting the sort of discrimination — and misleading statements to Congress — of which he now stands accused. There is no way Mr. Ashcroft can champion justice nationally if he cannot do so in his own office.

Meanwhile the NY Times also reports that it seems as if the DOJ might be lying about the Pride celebration and that Sen Lautenberg may call for hearings on the matter.

Group members, however, said department officials told them in several recent conversations that the June 18 event was being canceled because President Bush, unlike former President Bill Clinton, had not recognized Gay Pride Month in a White House proclamation. Group members said they were told that Attorney General John Ashcroft's office had ordered the cancellation.

In a voice mail message played today for a reporter, an official in the Justice Department's equal employment office was heard telling a DOJ Pride representative late last month: "The attorney general's office has decided that we will not have a DOJ Pride program this year. I just wanted to give you as much of a heads up on that as I could."

Last week, the official acknowledged to a reporter relaying the decision to DOJ Pride representives.

Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, who last week condemned the cancellation of the gay pride event, said today that he planned to call for a Congressional hearing into possible civil rights violations by the Justice Department in connection with the incident.

"This is the politics of a cover-up," the senator said in a statement.

All this is still a side show - when the main show is the Pryor Nomination.