State Department makes sea change on LGBT rights



[Note: Great article plus it features our own David Johnson, a professor at USF and author of the “The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government.']

For decades the US State Department actively rooted out gay employees within its own ranks, deeming them subject to blackmail by foreign powers and a threat to national security.


Historians and former public officials say it began with a McCarthy-era campaign known as the “Lavender Scare” in which more than 1,000 State Department employees suspected of being gay or lesbian lost their jobs and the US also pressured United Nations and NATO allies into joining the campaign.

But that culture is being challenged as never before amid a sea change in the State Department, said James Hormel, who became America’s first openly gay ambassador in 1999 after a bitter and protracted confirmation process.

“I think the State Department has resolved its conscience about gay employees,” said Hormel, a philanthropist who has worked for gay rights for more than 30 years and is now retired from public service. “They’ve done a very dramatic turnaround.”

Building on protections placed by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton closed the book on a legacy of internal targeting of LGBT personnel when she took charge of the agency in 2009. Now advocates and scholars say she has done as much to advance the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender people in recent years as any other leader in the world.

“The State Department has gone from the world’s principal advocate for anti-gay policy to one of the great leaders for LGBT rights,” said David K. Johnson, a professor at the University of South Florida and the author of “The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government.”

Read the rest here:…



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