You. MUST. Approve

A reader in the Department of Labor passes along the latest bit of Enforced Goodthink from the Ubergruppenfuhrer in charge of the place:

From: Secretary Hilda Solis [mailto:Secretaryhildasolis@dol.gov]
Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2011
Subject: A Lesson from Bayard Rustin

Dear Colleagues:

This week, our elevator poster features Bayard Rustin.  Too many people don’t know who he was and what he did.  That’s a shame.
Rustin was a counselor to A. Philip Randolph and Rev. Martin Luther King.  He was also the chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington where Dr. King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech—an event I believe changed our country in so many positive ways.
Rustin was also gay, and at the time, other people’s homophobia, fear and intolerance compromised his effectiveness and his potential.  He had to stay “behind the scenes” and was rarely credited publicly for his amazing skill and accomplishments.  As a result, and until fairly recently, he was “written out” of the civil rights movement’s history.
There’s a lesson here, and I think it’s relevant to each and every one of us. As we do our work to create jobs, spur economic growth, keep workplaces safe and free of discrimination, and ensure that the American people are educated and trained to be the most competitive in the world . . . every U.S. Department of Labor employee’s talent must be brought to these important tasks.
We don’t have a person to lose–across our nation and here at the department. 
The administration takes this seriously.  That’s why we repealed “Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell” so that gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans can serve openly in the armed forces; required hospitals receiving Medicare/Medicaid funds to allow visitation rights and medical decision-making rights to LGBT patients; and made sure that the Census counted everyone—including LGBT couples.  And I take great satisfaction that our own Wage and Hour Division clarified that the Family and Medical Leave Act covers LGBT parents.  Later this month, I’m convening a meeting between agency heads and transgender advocacy groups to explore ways in which DOL can break down barriers for transgender workers.
Within the Labor Department, we’re doing things–big and small–to make sure that our LGBT employees can be their most effective and reach their full potential.  It starts by respecting them.  And it’s reinforced by educating others.
In April, we expanded the protections outlined in our internal equal opportunity policies to highlight the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender identity.  Additionally, the policies reiterated the department’s prohibition of discrimination and discriminatory harassment on the basis of sexual orientation.  On June 1st–at my direction–we hung the first-ever LGBT Pride banner above the entrance to the Frances Perkins building.  Earlier today, we screened a documentary about Bayard Rustin here in the FPB.  We’ve provided copies of the video to our regional offices and have encouraged them to sponsor similar events.  I’ve instructed the Wirtz Library to screen the film for any employees who would like to watch it, individually or as a group.  My office is happy to partner with any agency or group that would like to screen the film.
And we also put up our LGBT Pride elevator poster.  For the past two years we have used the posters to celebrate our achievements, recognize our colleagues and articulate our mission.
I’ve spent my life in politics and public service, so I encourage debate and dialogue.  I have said many times that I want to hear from our employees if they have legitimate issues or concerns.  But I will not tolerate disrespect to others.  And I do not consider vandalizing government property a constructive, effective or professional way to communicate one’s views.  As I stated in a similar message two years ago, respect for one another is “non-negotiable” at the U.S. Department of Labor.
Let me be absolutely clear: The U.S. Department of Labor is a welcoming, diverse and inclusive workplace.  We value everyone.  We embrace people’s individuality and celebrate their diversity, talents and contributions.  I know the vast majority of employees throughout the department share this view and live these values every single day.  I do not believe the actions of a few define who we are or what we believe.
So I hope you will join me in making this message even more obvious to all of our colleagues and to everyone who comes to any of our offices.  The LGBT Pride poster will remain up in the FPB elevators for the rest of the month.  Employees in the FPB are encouraged to report defaced, damaged or missing posters to extension 3-5001 so they can be immediately replaced.  The LGBT Pride “billboard” will remain up on LaborNet for the rest of the month.  The poster will be available to any employee at any location who wants to hang it on their office door, cubicle or break/common area.   Contact Beverly Eaves at 202/693-4654, and it will be provided to you.
Bayard Rustin–who led a movement of non-violence with Dr. King–once said: “When an individual is protesting society’s refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him.”  Let’s not forget this legacy. Let’s make him proud.
Sincerely,
Hilda L. Solis

U.S. Secretary of Labor

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