How gay rights activists remade the federal government

The 40th anniversary of the Civil Service Reform Act falls on October 13, fittingly in the middle of LGBT History Month. The bill banned discrimination in the civil service based on race, creed, sex, national origin, age, and disability, as well as on “the basis of conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the employee or applicant of the performance of others.”

Rick Valelly, professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College explains the inclusion of the “conduct” language and the role LGBT+ rights activists played in the reform:

“From the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, gay and lesbian activists fought with and finally changed the Civil Service Commission — the agency that the act replaced with three new agencies (the Office of Personnel Management, the Merit Systems Protection Board and the Office of Special Counsel). In letters, face-to-face meetings and public protests — in front of the White House and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall — activists pointed out, over and over, that there was no relationship between sexual orientation and a person’s capacity to work for the federal government.”

Read more at The Washington Post