When it comes to gay police officers, law enforcement agencies — like the military — have long had a culture of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” says the Miami Herald. These days, most urban police departments are actively recruiting gays and lesbians. In Los Angeles, the police department is co-sponsoring the Gay Games VII, sporting events for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender athletes in Chicago in July. In New York, employment policies prevent an officer from being fired over sexual orientation, and in New Jersey, several counties provide benefits for same-sex partners.
In South Florida, most gay police officers remain in the closet. Few departments actively recruit gays and lesbians, and only three — Miami Beach, Key West and Fort Lauderdale — have liaisons to the gay community. As liaisons, they might find themselves assigned to handle hate-crime investigations, harassment complaints, and domestic disputes involving gays and lesbians. Gay advocates in law enforcement say the issue is one of the last civil rights battles still being waged across the nation. “‘Until gays and lesbians have job protection, through legislation in every state, being gay remains a civil rights struggle,” said George Farrugia of the New York chapter of Gay Officers Action League (GOAL). “Anyone who says that being a gay officer is not an issue, is being very naive. It is still so taboo in parts of the country to say you’re gay. Farrugiais an assistant district attorney in Queens, N.Y. In many states, including Florida, gay workers, including cops, have no specific protection against being fired on the basis of their sexual orientations.