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By NWV News writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
June 27, 2011

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) last Wednesday sponsored its first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month program at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. despite being embroiled in a controversial probe.

As part of the program, Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson provided remarks while Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) served as Wednesday's keynote speaker.

The celebration was in recognition of the accomplishments and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans to ATF and the nation, and to promote awareness of the LGBT culture.

But many believe this is merely window dressing designed to stop the continuing scandal that resulted from an ATF operation that actually placed weapons in the hands of Mexican drug cartel members and Mexico's criminal population.

"Operation Fast & Furious backfired on the Obama administration especially the Attorney General [Eric Holder] and now an intense investigation by Congress and non-government groups may end up inside the Oval Office," said political strategist Mike Baker.

"This gay pride theme -- repeal of don't as, don't tell in the U.S. military and celebrating gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender in the ATF -- is an obvious play to garner favor with the progressives who can make or break the presidency of Barack Obama," he stated.

ATF works to ensure sexual orientation discrimination and prejudice are not tolerated in our workplace, said Director Melson at the celebration.

"The ATF is an equal employment opportunity environment where effective and equitable participation is encouraged. We are grateful that the Honorable Rep. Frank could share his experiences with our workforce as we celebrate diversity today," he said.

Congressman Frank spoke about his experiences serving as an openly gay congressman for the 4th Congressional District of Massachusetts and his rise to Democrat stalwart status. However, that rise to power included a relationship with a male prostitute who used Frank's home as his bordello and allegations of a sexual relationship with the head of the Fannie Mae foundation, an organization Frank was supposed to investigate.

ATF created its LGBT affinity group called ATF Pride with the primary goal of ensuring equal employment opportunity and enhancing development opportunities for LGBT employees at the agency, according to its press office.

"The ATF has been underfire for an alleged operation that contributed to the deaths of Americans. So what better way to appeal to the news media -- cheerleaders of the gay movement -- than to tap into one of its pet projects: assisting homosexuals to push their agenda,” said Mike Baker.

The growing scandal of Operation Fast and Furious had Special Agent John Dodson, assigned to the Phoenix Field Division of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, testify last week before a congressional committee about his concerns over having the Justice Department's Inspector General lead the investigation into ATF agents actions during a gun smuggling operation.


The House committee hearings included testimony from four Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) agents who offered firsthand accounts about the controversial Operation Fast and Furious that allowed suspects to walk away with illegally purchased guns and enter Mexico. Two of the approximately 2,000 guns that ATF let criminals walk away with were found at the murder scene of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010.

“ATF agents have shared chilling accounts of being ordered to stand down as criminals in Arizona walked away with guns headed for Mexican drug cartels,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who chairs the committee.

During S.A. Dodson's testimony, he stated, "I can see a conflict between the Office of the OIG [Office of Department of Justice Inspector General], yes sir, the actual individuals that are working the case, my interaction with them since I've been interviewed by them, is that I think they get it."

"However those two offices being who they are and how they are aligned, there's inherently a conflict of interest. If in fact someone at DOJ authorized this, knows about it, is as well versed as everyone at ATF – that thereby creates the conflict with OIG," he stressed during his testimony.


In addition to the ATF, President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver remarks on “The Human Rights of LGBT People and U.S. Foreign Policy” at an event co-hosted by the State Department and Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA), on Monday, June 27 in the Dean Acheson Auditorium at the Department of State.

Preceding the Secretary’s remarks, Under Secretary Maria Otero will lead a panel discussion with senior U.S. Government Officials. The discussion topics will include the status of LGBT people around the world and how the U.S. Government can promote the protection of their human rights.

The event is part of a series of LGBT Pride Month celebrations at the U.S. Department of State, according to officials.

GLIFAA, officially recognized by the U.S. State Department, represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) personnel and their families in the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Foreign Commercial Service, Foreign Agricultural Service, and other foreign affairs agencies and offices in the U.S. Government.

Founded in 1992 by fewer than a dozen employees who faced official harassment simply because of their sexual orientation, GLIFAA continues to seek equality and fairness for LGBT employees and their families.

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White House spokesperson Shin Inouye issued a statement to the gay news organization The Blade recapping the administration’s LGBT-related accomplishments.

President Obama is proud of the accomplishments he and his administration have made to advance LGBT rights,” Inouye said. “Working with Congress, we have passed and signed into law a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and an inclusive hate crimes bill.

Executive action from the president is seen as the best — if not only — way to address the issues facing the LGBT community now that Republican control of the U.S. House has legislative progress unlikely for at least two years. There is even talk of the President using executive orders to bypass the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

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As part of the program, Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson provided remarks while Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) served as Wednesday's keynote speaker.