Rep. David Cicilline/Rep. Marc TakanoPhoto: Shutterstock/Mark Takano via Twitter
Two members of the House of Representatives introduced a resolution today to apologize for the mistreatment of LGBTQ federal government employees, members of the United States Armed Forces, and members of the Foreign Service.
“Our government has spent years persecuting or wrongfully firing LGBT people for no other reason than they liked the wrong person,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) said in a statement. He and Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) presented the resolution in the House.
Related: Six Decades Later, Lavender Fear Is Still Among Us
“The call to service is one of the greatest acts of patriotism, but to be denied that opportunity because of who they were is one of our country’s greatest injustices. It is high time the government recognized this horrible practice, apologizes to those who have been hurt, and pledges to ensure full equality for all Americans.
The text of the resolution denounces numerous cases of discrimination perpetrated by the US government against LGBTQ people in the public service or in the military, including the Lavender Scare, in which 5,000 people accused of being gay were dismissed from the service federal and even more have lived in fear of being unmasked.
The fear of lavender was born out of a moral panic in the 1950s and also out of fear of communism, which heterosexuals at the time associated with homosexuality. President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued an executive order making “sexual perversion” a dismissalable offense in 1953. It wasn’t until 1975 that the government said it would consider gay job applications on a case-by-case basis, and only because a federal judge ordered the government to do so.
And even after that, the State Department, CIA, and other agencies continued to deny people security clearance because of their sexual orientation until a 1995 executive order from President Bill Clinton tell them to stop the practice.
The resolution also calls out the military for its long history of anti-LGBTQ discrimination. Gay, lesbian and bisexual people were banned from military service until Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) was passed in 1993, and this law forced LGB people to live in fear of to be discovered in the military even though it was supposed to be a step in the right direction.
LGB people couldn’t openly serve in the military until 2011, and transgender people weren’t allowed to live as themselves in the military until 2016. Almost immediately after the military accepted trans members under the Obama administration, President Donald Trump banned trans people from serving in the military in 2017. Only a few months ago, this ban was repealed by the Biden administration.
“The House of Representatives,” the resolution states, “on behalf of the United States, apologizes” to LGBTQ “military service members, foreign service members, veterans, and federal public service employees” and their families and “reaffirms the federal government’s commitment”. The government must treat all military service members, foreign service members, veterans, and federal public service employees and retirees, including LGBT people, with the same respect and fairness.
“LGBT civil servants and military served with honor, distinction and often, in the face of intense discrimination and fear of being fired,” Takano said.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced a similar resolution in the Senate with 17 colleagues.