By: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer
Gay and Lesbian civil rights leaders will remember when back in the 50s and 60s, the U.S. State Department was a high profile organization that actively discriminated against employees and job applicants based on sexual orientation.
At that time, LGBT rights weren’t even thought about and the government willfully refused to hire applicants that they deemed to be gay. People who were already working for the government organization often resigned due to discrimination.
This trend was commonly referred to as the “Lavender Scare”. It was originally based on the term being play on the Communist “Red Scare” which was based on the phrase “lavender lads,” used by Senator Everett Dirksen to refer to gay men in the early 50s.
Right before the Obama administration left office, then-Secretary of State John Kerry posted an apology for the “Lavender Scare” to LGBT citizens on the Department’s official site at the time.
“These actions were wrong then,” said Kerry. “just as they would be wrong today.” As of Tuesday, that apology is now gone.” concluded Kerry.
The Human Rights Campaign condemned the Trump administration’s decision to delete Kerry’s statement (an archive of which can be found here). HRC President Chad Griffin said in the following statement:
“With each passing hour, the Trump administration continues to show the extent of their contempt for the enormous progress made over the past eight years. … It is outrageous that the new administration would attempt to erase from the record this historic apology for witch hunts that destroyed the lives of innocent Americans.”
The Human Rights Campaign stated that in addition to removing the apology, the State Department’s website also removed content related to LGBT Pride Month. On top of that, they removed any mention of the Department’s Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons as well as removing references to LGBT people and issues.
At Monday’s White House press briefing, press secretary Spicer explained at the time that the administration is in the process of redoing its web content and that this feature would return. We’ve reached out to the State Department for further comment.
In a statement that was submitted to LawNewz.com, a State Department representative said:
“Administration-specific content that was posted on state.gov during President Obama’s tenure was archived. Content that remains on state.gov includes, but is not limited to, the functions and operations of the Department information; Congressionally-mandated reports, e.g., TIP, HRR, and IRF; and collections of official documents, e.g., legal treaties and air transport agreements. New items created by the Trump Administration will be posted to state.gov”
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