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News Briefs

Government Lawyer Argues For `Celibate Homosexuality'

The Baltimore Sun

A Clinton administration lawyer tried to assure a federal court Monday that a member of the military who publicly admits being homosexual might be able to stay in uniform by claiming never to have had gay or lesbian sex and vowing never to do so.

Anthony J. Steinmeyer, a Justice Department attorney, made the point during a hearing by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The panel is reviewing the Naval Academy's 1987 ouster of Midshipman Joseph C. Steffan after he said he was gay.

Steffan, 28, was forced out of the Academy just before graduation. He is seeking his diploma in a lawsuit that challenges the military's existing anti-gay policy, and raises doubts about the Clinton administration's so-called "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue" rule due to take effect Oct. 1.

At Monday's hearing, the judges were openly skeptical and sometimes sharply critical of the military's old and new policies against homosexuals in uniform. Faced with that, the government's lawyer said the policies did offer some chance to avoid automatic discharge even after revealing one's homosexual status.

A truly "celibate homosexual," Steinmeyer argued, would not be considered by the military to be a "homosexual" under the Pentagon's present and past rules against gays. A "homosexual," he said, is one who "desires" sex, and a celibate does not meet that definition.

Buyout Plan Should Move Quickly

The Washington Post

The Clinton administration hopes to have most of the 100,000 workers it will buy out of their jobs off the federal payroll by April 1994.

The buyout authority --giving selected workers up to $25,000 if they quit their jobs early or retire immediately --would last two years. Most of the buyout action would take place during a six-month period starting next month, if Congress quickly approves the plan.

Buyouts also will be accompanied by early-retirement offers allowing selected workers to get immediate pensions at age 50 with 20 years of service or at any age after 25 years.

Officials say more than 100,000 buyouts could be offered, as agencies move to cut 252,000 jobs over the next several years. Normal turnover is down as employees who were expected to quit have hung on, partly because of the economy and in anticipation of a buyout.

In recent years, the District of Columbia government, the Postal Service and the Office of Thrift Supervision used special authority unavailable to other agencies to offer buyouts equal to six months of pay.

Congress gave the Defense Department buyout authority last year, and more than 30,000 civilians have taken payments equal to the value of their severance or $25,000, whichever is less. The CIA now has buyout authority.