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September 1969: court blasts workplace discrimination.

Veteran gay activist Jim Kepner reported that the U.S. court of appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in July that federal civil service employees could not be fired just for being homosexual. (In May 1998 President Clinton signed an executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in the federal civilian workforce.)

The case involved Clifford Norton, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration budget analyst arrested after police witnessed him picking up another man near Lafayette Square, driving around the block, and drop ping him off. The other man alleged that Norton had made a sexual advance, which Norton denied. NASA decided Norton had made an advance amounting to "immoral, indecent and disgraceful conduct," adding that he possessed "traits of character" rendering him "unsuitable for further Government employment."

Assuming Norton had made an advance, the appeals court ruled the act had no connection to his work-related abilities. "The Civil Service has neither the expertise nor the requisite anointment to make ... absolute moral judgments," the court wrote. "A finding that an employee has done something immoral ... could support a dismissal ... only if all immoral acts have some ascertainable deleterious effect on the efficiency of the service. An agency cannot: support a dismissal merely by turning its head and crying `shame.'"
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Title Annotation:gay liberation history; From The Advocate Archives
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Sep 29, 1998
Words:211
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