Credit Worthiness

On the Fair Credit Reporting Act (DADT, Chapter 5, page 266, note 131 makes a comment about creditworthiness and employment - see also the book review of a handbook by the Society for Human Resource Management)) one reader reminds me that the FCRA does not allow consumers to sue providers of information (like banks and mortgage companies) to credit bureaus or to credit reporting companies. (The ability to sue credit reporting companies themselves is very limited.) Apparently the FCRA (in section 623) was amended rather recently to prohibit this. Only government (state and federal) regulatory bodies can punish negligence by providers of credit information. One consumer had the experience of having a non-existing (paid-off) mortgage sold to another bank, which then attempted collection procedures!

            The libertarian position would be that credit reporting agencies and institutions providing credit history should be held accountable to consumers through the tort system when they clearly have been negligent, have damaged a consumer's reputation and have not shown due diligence in maintaining the accuracy of their information. (In some situations I would think libel tort law could be used.) But of course, laws might have to be carefully crafted to prevent frivolous lawsuits. Remember, at one time, credit reporting (in the 19th Century) was a cottage industry (the founder of Chilton Corporation, long since assumed by TRW/Experian, maintained his information in a little red notebook!)

            Libertarians would also maintain that consumers owe (their own employers and customers) some diligence in watching their own credit reports. There is no "constitutional right" to a high-paying job, so it is possible to lose a job because of wrong information; but if this happens the consumer should have recourse through the tort system because he/she has been harmed.

Another reader informs me that in 1997 Congress amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act to require employers to provide job applicants or employees notification of findings from a credit report and to allow a reasonable waiting time before an employment decision.

Entrepreneurs and Health Care Coverage

            Another reader pointed this out to me: There is now some limited ability for self-employed persons and proprietorship owners to purchase health care with pre-tax dollars (to compete with employers). See my expanded footnotes on chapter 5. (The original material is on page 266).

On Affirmative Action "Preferences"

            Well, this one gets emotional. A bookstore owner in Richmond, Va, told me that he fully supports affirmative action. An email to me angrily told me that I "lacked vision" on this issue and that my attitude was hurtful to "people of color." Yet, I would say, that affirmative action preferences insult people of color when regarded as individuals, just as the military ban insults gay men and lesbians. (And on that issue, a military officer, otherwise liberal, complained "I didn't know what I was talking about" but wouldn't elaborate.) See affirmative action and the OFR book.

Libertarianism and Balancing Individual Rights against General Welfare

            One reader indicates that, in his view, many libertarian complaints about government regulation are "straw men" being erected by persons with nothing better to do to make their lives exciting. This reader also indicates that, since most people depend upon the stability of an ordered society to make their lives relevant, they shouldn't complain when the Law recognizes the common welfare. (That is, if you are a real libertarian, you'll become a Luddite, or at least a survivalist.) Disagreement noted. I know where he is coming from.

Upon Expanding the Protection of Individual Rights in the Constitution

            There is already some underground discussion of a "Bill of Rights 2" and doaskdotell will be informing readers on this. On July 21, 1998, ABC News Reported Cokie Roberts told Larry King (on CNN "Larry King Live") that expanding individual rights in a deliberate manner would be a "wonderful diea." I don't know definitively if Roberts got some motivation to say that from this site or from DADT.


A friend writes that I need to pay less attention to "looks" which today seem to preoccupy the gay male community and in fact our somewhat more "self-centered" society at large, and become more mature. True, perhaps some of my attutudes would leave a lot of people out in the cold. And, I'm, in fact, no angel when it comes to paying attention to my own appearance. But for those among us who must set examples for others, appearances (just as in manuscript submission) do count for something. They'll never be ignored.

Censorship (internet censorship, with respect to Child Online Protection Act and earlier Communications Decency Act

Using the standards of the "average person", whatever those may be, in determining what can be published in unrestricted fashion, can lead to the stifling of minority views, and can amount to implementing "a tyranny of the majority."

On the Libertarian Party as a third party:

The Libertarian Party, by advancing "socially liberal" views on drug use and consensual sex and other "victimless crimes," is as likely to take votes away from conservatives as from liberals. An Al Gore or a Hillary Clinton will not be drawn away from the Democrats; a Woody Harrelson (The People vs. Larry Flynt and Natural Born Killers) might. But the Libertarian Party isn’t just going to siphon away Republican votes so that tax-and-spend Democrats (in Minnesota, the notorious DFL) can easily stay in power. The Libertarian Party can scare away "conservatives" just as well as "liberals."

On Social Rights v. Fundamental Rights

Social rights may be seen as legislated (but possibly even constitutional) guarantees of one person's freedom from encroachment by another (or guarantee that others will provide certain kinds of succor); fundamental rights may deal specifically with relationship between the individual and government.

On the Commerce Clause, and public v private institutions

The distinction between publicly supported and totally private organizations (as with the Boy Scouts controversy over gays) may be blurry indeed, but the Commerce Clause may well give federal government to intervene at the "public accommodation" level with civil rights laws.

On the market economy, supply side economics, and spontaneous order

The market economy (especially "market fundamentalism") dictates "survival of the fittest," a Darwinian paradigm. Sometimes, as Ross Perot said, trickle down doesn't trickle, for a lot of people. Libertarianism must be tempered with basic notions of fairness.

On same-sex marriage

At least one reader comments to me that my concerns that singles "subsidize" married people are overblown and that most of the benefits of marriage are social and legal "recognition," which allegedly cost nothing.

OnBill of Rights 2

One AOL member writes: “While you may believe that the constitution may need some bolstering, perhaps you should note that the Constitution is at this time null and void being that the country is in a declared state of emergency (since March 1933, by FDR). Anything that the Secretary of State or the President says to be law (executive order) is automatically approved by Congress (did he mean House, ed.)  and only has to be approved by the Senate.  Work to remove the state of emergency and you will find that the things you are searching for already exist.”  I think that this could be rebutted!

On “Political Correctness” and Adversarialsim

Three commentators point out that what I call “adversarialism” is just plain political correctness, “p.c.”, intended perhaps to protect people’s feelings (in the workplace or in the political area), allow Libran “harmony,” get things done under the rubric of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”  It isn’t politically correct to call attention to yourself, to your opinions, to indulge yourself with, “It is true because I say so.”  

On “no refer avail">Dropouts  Young People who Drop Out

One commentator from a seminary background:  (Oct. 12, 2000)

“Thanks for the information regarding dropout's in college. By the way you had mentioned in your article that the Roman Catholic church had an easy way out for those who could not compete, that they could be priests or nuns. Is this some kind of a joke, to be a priest or a nun is harder than real life? And this kind of sarcasm is not good because you'll are making the seminary and convent look like a commonplace for college dropout's or cowards.”

Frank Kameny (from queerlaw) on the issue of advances countering discrimination against gays in civilian employment since 1973 (here is a pitch for his book):

(This is in reference to a review of the Executive Orders mentioned below by George W. Bush, as documented by Fred Hochberg in the New York Times, Feb. 10, 2001.)

There were two major Clinton EO's relating to gays.  EO 12968 issued in 1995, provided explicit protection to gays in regard to security clearances.  It is a long order, dealing with many other security-clearance-related matters, providing much enhanced and long needed additional due process protections generally.

EO 13087, issued in (I believe) 1997, added sexual orientation to other protected classes in federal employment in an Executive Order going back to Nixon and amended at least once in between (by Carter, I think).  An effort was made to overturn it through the infamous Hefley (sp?) amendment in Congress, which was defeated by a comfortable majority, giving the EO implied Congressional approval.  It was more a housekeeping measure than anything else, tidying up this aspect of Federal civil service employment policy which, for political reasons had been left in a fragmented, agency-by-agency state for some years.  Yes, it built upon a 1973 9th Circut injunction still nominally in effect, plus the 1975 Civil Service Comission policy and regulation change, plus the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act.  It kind of "neatened" up the neighborhod.

See my chapter: Government v. Gays: Two Sad Stories with Two Happy Endings, Civil Service Employment and Security Clearances, pp.  188-207 "Creating Change; Sexuality, Public Policy, and Civil Rights", edited by D'Emilio, Turner and Vaid, St. Martins Press, 2000.

Frank Kameny   (reach on

From another author (at the Minnesota Writers’ Forum):

The tern “gay conservative” is an oxymoron.  I simply answered, “No, it’s not.” 

Regarding individualism (at no ref avail for indiv.htm), from one AOL reader:

Liked observation at end that homosexuality in modern sense is individualism and desire to retain adolescence. good point. is also definition of what being a hippie was all about though wasn't sex-preference-based. the clinging to adolescence also has to do with models of adulthood that one is supposed to grow into for some it seem/seems not to gel with intuitive feeling of what being adult is all about especially if overly aggressive adults aggress you when you are younger (I decided I didn't want to or need to emulated jockness just to get accepted).  I have difficulty, however, believing your points with this conservative spin you have.  You need to rethink this definition of what to you is conservative and, frankly abandon it as a word because it is now defined by the worst in social homophobia and for you to somehow redeem it by your more humane outlook of what you conceive as properly conservative is a hopeless exercise.  I guess because you like the ideas of individualism you posit that as what is conservative because the alternative is some mass conformity which is supposed to be "communalist" which to you is left so ergo your individualism must be conservative.  "Liberal" education is just that: to be free to explore the diversity of viewpoints and come up with your own individual conclusions.  Try not to save the word conservative. . . it may bite you on the ass and put you in the camp of everything from Bushite jingoists to crypto-nazis like homophobe and conservative Phylis Shafley (and don't tell me she isn't a "real" conservative) and her good friend Gen "world anti-communist league/nazi collaborationist" John "contra-cocaine" Singlaub.  "Neo" is even worse.

.  You cited the emphasis on "individualism" after World Wa rII.  Let me remind you that "individualism" is not a conservative value per se.  In fact John Dewey, who some credited as the father of modern American education had a lot to say about the pedagogic responsibility of developing, ie: prompting the emergence of the individual self and learning to feed that self through the tools of education and self-education.  Dewey was seriously criticized by many conservatives in the 60's as the inspiration in an educational style that permitted conditions to unleash the anti-war movement. A movement they liked to accuse it of being anti-American (ergo Dewey didn't have anything to do with what America is about ((there is a good Dewey website)) ).  Nothing could be further from the truth.  What parents of 60's students didn't understand then that developmental theorists understand now is that parents shouldn't be so concerned about their kids thinking different than themselves.  In fact they should rejoice--it is a sign of individuation; thinking for themselves; cognition; brain growth: ideas so-called conservatives were in denial about because the 60's generation wouldn't follow "traditional" values.  Dewey was hated by conservatives and blamed for all the things that were going "wrong" in American education.  In so far as the civil rights, anti-war movement, peace religious, ecology movement, etc. conservatives were seriously on the other side of the issue--ie: they were against the above and tried to create their own opposition movement.  Remember YAFer's button of a B-52 shaped like the peace sign with the inscription: "drop it!"?  Today, conservatives embrace all manner of "fundie fascists" homophobic evangelicals, anti-catholic anti-papists, anti-liberal religious...the list goes on and on.  Where do you get off putting the good guy spin on conservatisim?  If you call yourself a gay person you have no business associating with an ideology you apparently label as conservative.  Why?  Was mom conservative and you still miss mom?  Conservatives the good guys?? Let's look at not what someone says of themselves but what they do!  You know, reading your reply I almost suspect it is a "form" response because it didn't specifically address my points, namely that you need to give up giving the word conservative a veneer of moral redemption.  Conservatives' collaboration with Nazism and Nazi collaborators in the past does not sit well  as a background history that gives it a future. Does that viewpoint make me a "communist" as I once was accused of?  Freud put the future of communism in its proper light.  Communism is like religion: it is illusory in the sense that it is in the end unscientific (religious faith doesn't make that claim but communism does); because the ends of communism requires the absolute subordination of the psyche, and therefore the individual, to the group: the aggressive nature in humans is subdued to a level that causes neurosis.  What make our species unique--and probably why it has been successful--is that we have an aggressive nature as well as a co-operative nature: subdue one at the cost of the other causes neurosis.  Modern civilization of necessity for its success and construction requires certain subduction of the aggressive nature but also the co-operative one as well (conservatism is essentially anti-democratic and anti-communitarian).  What happens, though, is this civilization seems to limit allowing sublimative outlets to balance the tradeoff of these compromises of aggressive and social natures.  Sexuality is one good route for sublimation but up to this time society is afraid to let the sex genie too much out of the bottle.  The gay movement is part of that genie.  It is liberalism not conservatism that argues for the cause of an enlightened approach to dealing with that genie.  Humanity will not be held back.  Conservatives would like to put that genie back in the bottle.  Give up your attachment to anything worthwhile that can be found in the conservative movement--they are all in denial, spin or poorly managing a  war in Afghanistan.  To not give it up is like fake religion: unscientific and illusory.  "Our science is no illusion but an illusion it would be to suppose that what you can't get from science you can get elsewhere."  --Freud.  Remember conservatives have a track record of hating Freud, Darwin, Maria Montessori, Dewey, evolution, FDR, JFK, the New York Times, Jews, Bill Clinton, gays, etc.

--yours queerly.


   I very much enjoyed reading your profound observations regarding the Bill
of Rights.  I'm a thirty-five year old gay college student with AIDS and
have a fast-blossoming interest in social law.

   I'm not certain what "ism" I shall eventually proscribe to, but I would be
proud to be considered an enthusiast in behavioral genetics,
paleoanthropology, and social conflict theory.  The only comfortable
religious position for me would have to be a scientific one: I'm an
   I recently did a research paper on the Supreme Court and the Rights of
Gays.  Sadly, after lengthy substantive support for the equality of gays, I
had to conclude that we are, by states, still screwed!

   The main purpose I write is to request that you recommend a book that
would, for me, summarrize and introduce me to the current policies
regarding the rights of gays in America.  I've seen a lot of titles but I'm
hesitant to devote my time to anything less than objective


How would I go about researching these topics?:

1. Laws on number of gendered pieces of clothing you had to be
wearing in order not to be arrested, like at a bar sweep; latest year
such laws were on the books, and where

2. Status of gendered clothing in corporations: is it legal for
companies to have dress codes requiring gender-specific clothing,
like heels

I  answered:

Good questions!  In "Your Rights in the Workplace," by Barbara Repa (Nolo Press, 1994), there appears the statement "And some differences that seem to be gender-based, such as barring men from wearing earrings but allowing for women--have been allowed to stand. The courts reason that differences in dress codes are not discriminatory if they do not put an unfair burden on one gender or the other." But there are issues when grooming codes woudl interefere with religious practice

I've never heard of the issue brought up in question 1.  In 1979-1980 the police used to randomly sweep gay bars in
Dallas and arrest patrons for "public indecency" but the patrons seemed to be picked out randomly, too, regardless of what they were doing -- until one patron (a computer operator) fought the charge and won acquittal. This was a big issue with the Social Justice committee of the Dallas Gay Alliance in 1980 (when I was living there).

Also - it was common thirty years ago for many companies to have very strict dress codes. EDS was one of the most notorious employers for this. Companies reasoned that dress was a way to gain confidence of the customer in one's professionalism.  IBM had been strict at one time (to the point of requiring men to require over-the-calf stockings and garters). I remember working for Univac in 1972-1974  (in New Jersey) and Univac was more "reasonable" even about dress on the customer's premises. Everyone talked about that then. (Univac is now Unisys).

You may want to look up the mid 70s book "Dress for Success" by John Molloy to see more about the conventions, at least in the past.

Comment from a reader on the Vietnam era draft and marriage deferments

I was married in June 1965 and therefore eligible for "marriage deferment" as it was prior to August abolition by Johnson who was furious with Congress for the earlier deferments. I recall a televised speech by a very angry Johnson who said any man who requested the marriage deferment (although a legal entitlement) "would regret it for the rest of their lives." It is 38 years later but I vividly recall this threat as it was very pertinent to my situation. Do you have any history or record of this speech or where it  can be found. Or what was the "regret" he contemplated?

Regarding Potential Downstream Liability for Misuse of a computer or domain by hackers: (from a Washington Post reporter, 8/2004):

Ø     I want to mention also the idea of downstream liability. We have all
> heard about machines being made into zombies for DOS attacks, and I
> understand that the Patriot Act could hold a home or business user
> legally responsible if his machine or server were hijacked in
> connection with a terrorist attack. (I don't think there have been any
> prosecutions yet, and you wonder why the electric power grid could
> even be reached through the Internet at all.) Another danger might be
> that a mail server is hijacked and used to send illegal spam or even
> child pornography (and this needs to be differentiated from the
> spoofing problem).
> I wonder what your comments would be on the liability issue. If you
> have a website where you have discussed it, please let me know.

I haven't gotten into this at all. I'm sure somebody could make a case
for this, but I don't know if that would be ethically right. I mean,
it's one thing if somebody knows they need to update the computer but
does all the wrong things anyway. It's another if somebody buys a
computer that's sold as an "it works out of the box" appliance, with no
warning that they need to do their own regular maintenance.

Regarding the likelihood that employers will start issuing employee blogging policies, one reporter writes to me (8/30/2004):  (based on )

Hi, I'm sure that anything that becomes an office distraction will eventually generate company policies, much like the advent of too much Internet usage did.


Several people have inquired to me about the issue. One person says he wrote and self-published a book on sales techniques in biotechnology with the approval of his boss, but that other persons in the company think now he is wrong.


Regarding sexual orientation of college dorm roommates:


One reporter tells me that, while colleges try to match roommates on preferences, they will not ask questions about race, religion, sexual orientation. They might honor mutual requests for gay roommates. There are reports that some colleges have set up “gay” living quarters to reduce the likelihood of resentment of straight students (especially men). She also writes that voluntary dormitory housing assignment by cultural affiliation is called “affinity housing” and is considered appropriate today.


From the GLIL listserv regarding Alan Keyes and “selfish hedonism” of homosexuality (without procreation):


“Selfish hedonist" is not the worst label in the world, provided its rational selfishness and ethical hedonism. I doubt Alan Keyes has
sense enough to know the difference, but it should be expressed nonetheless.

”Sometimes I wish that gay rights organizations would go on the offensive, and make ignorant statements condemning heterosexual behavior, such as straights engaging in sex after menopause, or using birth control. Just to bring the point home.”


From another friend on this concept (also as a reaction to )

“I agree with you that I too have been free to follow my life's passions. There certainly are people (and none too few) in our country who wouldn't mind getting rid of you and me and expropriating our assets.”


Zoning Laws (5/2005) in response to comments at


 “ When I left Bowie Maryland I needed to replace the clutch in my truck.  At four hours into the job, a zoning enforcement officer told me that I could not repair my truck in my own driveway.

    Actually, this provision is now fairly common in the DC area.....

    I am going to organize a fight against standard zoning in this area - Berkeley Springs, WV

    If you have any ammunition please email or send to Eric Pritchard, 290 Pritchard Lane, Berkeley Springs, WV  25411”


Regarding an Amazon book review (11/2006)


 I guess I can respond to this in a structured way. I’ll put a couple remarks here. Maybe later in the blogs.


 As far as “deconstructing” the government, that would mean, having the government formally relinquish many of its powers through some formal series of legal or constitutional events. It would mean, literally, repealing any federal laws not based on powers explicitly granted in the Constitution. I think that it could mean repealing the income tax and replacing it with nothing, for example.


 Remember, this is from 1997. Many libertarians have called for very radical measures to remove most power from the federal government. Do I personally favor that?  As a piecemeal measure, I don’t think it could happen; there would have to be a radical restructuring of the entire government. Something like that would only happen after an intense debate over many issues. Is “deconstruction” the same as “dissolution”. Not quite, but, yes, the American Revolution was indeed just that. This would be much more orderly.


As for the long constitutional amendment, again this is 1997. There are a lot of bad things government does and can do to take rights away (or property or freedom away) from one person and give it to someone else whose needs seem more “legitimate.” The amendment was supposed to make some of that impossible, Of course, it takes a certain mindset to think this way. Yes, some or all of them could be laws, if they would be. We’ve seen a lot happen since then. We’ve seen Lawrence v. Texas, important decisions on affirmative action, and various opinions on Internet censorship and COPA. And, true, the constitutional amending concept has been abused in silly fashion in the gay marriage debate. Nevertheless, the abstraction of fundamental rights is very important.


On abortion, in a literal sense, an unborn child, at least during the early part of a pregnancy, does not have full rights under our law right now.  Matters of principle or law can sound brutal or offensive when stated as an abstraction, but that doesn’t make them any less true.


On the use of second person, the clause in question is a metaphor based on grade school teaching in the past. Sometimes in less formal writing (in books, just not in academic papers) it is acceptable to condense the writing with a metaphor. Okay, maybe The Chicago Manual of Style doesn’t like that. The English language developed an “impersonal second person” after William the Conqueror invaded England, as French has developed “vous” as an impersonal substitute for the personal “tu” and as English needed to be able to express abstract social and legal concepts in a more compact form. (And, yes, the preposition "as" should be "to", otherwise the grammatical ellipsis can be read as a misplaced appostive.)


As for as the event that led me to do the book, it starts with the traumatic expulsion from William and Mary in 1961, the circumstances of which have a bearing on the military gay ban 30 some years later. It is true that as the chapters progress, I become more an “observer” and my participation becomes apparently tangential, but more meaningful when you look closely. What I see this as, is 40 some years of American history, viewed inside out.


Most autobiographical books that purport to deal with policy are authored by celebrities, and the “stakes” at various points of their lives are more obvious to many readers. The McGreevey book is a good example. Most of the autobiographical books by gay soldiers from the 90s were motivated by actually being thrown out of the military. Mine has an ironic twist; I was thrown out of a civilian college under circumstance that seem parallel (there are subtleties). (The Lehmkuhl book is an exception; he actually completed service without expulsion; there are books by gay sports figures or law enforcement officials who managed to survive.)  All of this makes, I think, rich material for future movies.


What I have been getting at, is the way all of these notions about morality and individual liberty link up and arrange themselves, and need to be understood in relation to one another. The downtown for my understanding of these things has been the military gay ban and its connection that citizens do have to share some burdens and common responsibilities, somehow.  It’s valuable to lay out all the debate areas about “burden sharing” on a table or in some town hall format.  And it is valuable to try to understand a philosophy that tries to be perfect, save everygody and answer for everything, even if it leads to oppression in practice (the anti-homosexual pronouncements of the Vatican and all the theories about abstinence outside of marriage fit this category.) Most people experience issues in specific situations relative to their own needs and to family situations, and tend to understand the world from the viewpoint of their own situations and obligations. So many people get irritated by writing that puts personal problems into abstractions, speculations, or subjunctions, and encapsulates them with unusual metaphors. In many cases the writer seems to have no personal responsibility for the outcome of his proposals if they actually got implemented. There is a truism, “all politics is local,” but political and social principles do require “the brain as big as a planet.”  But if you look at the big picture this way, it does look scary, filled with many inconvenient truths.





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