For gay scientists hoping to do work for the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Energy, or the National Security Agency, one sign that times have changed is that homosexuality, in and of itself, is no longer a basis for denial of a security clearance. "Before 1975, no gay person was allowed to have a security clearance, even at the lowest level. Since then, things have gotten significantly better," says Richard Gayer, a San Francisco lawyer whose practice focuses on appealing denials of clearances.

Still, gays' applications for clearance are scrutinized more closely than heterosexuals'. According to a statement given to the press last June by DoD, homosexuality is "a relevant factor in a determination of whether a person is reliable and trustworthy.... Its significance must be determined on a case-by-case basis in light of the particular circumstances involved.... Among the factors to be considered as to whether homosexual...

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