Don't ask, don't tell

By Tim Grieve

Published February 16, 2005 4:58PM (EST)

When the Suicide Prevention Resource Center of Newton, Mass., scheduled a suicide-prevention program for Portland, Ore., somebody thought it was a good idea to include a session entitled "Suicide Prevention Among Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Individuals."

That somebody wasn't the Bush administration. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center receives federal funding from the Department of Health and Human Services. And when officials there heard that they might be funding a program that contained the words "Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender," they did the only thing a right-thinking Bush administration official would do: They ordered the words removed from the program.

Today's Washington Post has the story. Mark Weber, a spokesman for the Health and Human Services administrator who ordered the change, told the Post that the order wasn't really so much of an order as it was a "suggestion" -- like the "suggestion" that the program be expanded to include a session on faith-based suicide prevention. But when pressed on how strongly Bush appointee Charles G. Curie "suggested" that the conference organizers remove the offending words, Weber told The Post: "Well, they do need to consider their funding source."

Curie apparently told conference planners that it was OK to use the term "sexual orientation," and Weber defended the choice as being more "inclusive." Conference organizer Ron Bloodworth was not impressed with the argument. "Everyone has a sexual orientation," he told The Post. "But this was about gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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