For more information please call  800.727.2766


History of Sexual Orientation Bias Reflected in Secretary of State’s Apology

Secretary of State John Kerry issued a public apology to the many state department employees who have been discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.

Beginning in the 1940s, the U.S. Department of State was known to have openly discriminated against employees and job applicants on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Some employees were forced to resign while others were never hired because of their sexual orientation. Referred to as the “Lavender Scare,” the systemic removal of homosexual employees was part of the larger removal of “subversives” required during the time of McCarthyism and its “red scare.” In 1953, Dwight Eisenhower imposed a nationwide ban on gay men and lesbians finding employment within the federal government.

Mr. Kerry’s apology was prompted by a request from Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland. Senator Cardin asserted that even in the 1990s, personnel who were believed to be homosexual were driven out of the State Department and referred to as “security risks.” It is believed that more than 1,000 people lost their jobs, causing significant damage to their careers. In making his apology, Mr. Kerry reaffirmed the State Department’s “steadfast commitment to diversity and inclusion for all our employees, including members of the LGBTI community.”