Our Nation has made tremendous progress in advancing the cause of equality for LGBTQI+ Americans. To keep building on that progress, we must reflect honestly on the darkest chapters of our story and on how far we have come. Seventy years ago, as the Cold War set in, President Eisenhower signed an Executive Order banning LGBTQI+ Americans from serving in the Federal Government. This action codified a shameful chapter in our Nation’s history known as the “Lavender Scare.” It was a decades-long period when 5,000 to 10,000 LGBTQI+ Federal employees were investigated, were interrogated, and lost their jobs simply because of who they were and whom they loved.
On this anniversary, we acknowledge the importance of telling the complete history of our Nation, reflecting on the lives changed by this discrimination, honoring the courageous Americans who fought to end this injustice, and celebrating the contributions of today’s proud LGBTQI+ public servants — including members of our Armed Forces.
Our Nation was founded on the sacred idea that all of us are created equal and deserve to be treated equally under our laws. But for so many members of the LGBTQI+ community, hate, discrimination, and isolation throughout our country’s history have denied them the full promise of America. The Lavender Scare epitomized — and institutionalized — this injustice. As LGBTQI+ employees were forced out of the workforce, the Federal Government attempted to defend its policies by propagating false and hateful stereotypes — accusing this community of being a threat to our national security and unworthy of public trust. Employees who were fired under these policies often lost future employment, other opportunities, and even relationships with their own families. Many endured poverty and public disgrace. Some took their own lives as a result of the trauma they had to bear.
While this is a story of profound injustice, it is also a story of remarkable bravery. From seeking relief in the courts to picketing in front of the White House, activists stood up for their rights and helped lay the foundation for the modern-day LGBTQI+ civil rights movement. One such trailblazer was Franklin Kameny, an Army astronomer, who after being fired because he was gay, dedicated over 50 years of his life to activism and helping LGBTQI+ workers stand up for their rights. In 2009, I was proud to meet Frank Kameny in the Oval Office as President Obama and I officially expanded many Federal benefits to same-sex partners of Government employees.
I am equally proud to have mandated additional protections for the fundamental rights of LGBTQI+ Americans. I have appointed barrier-breaking LGBTQI+ leaders to the highest levels of Government, including the first openly gay Senate-confirmed Cabinet Secretary, the first two openly transgender Americans to be confirmed by the United States Senate, and the first open lesbian to achieve the rank of Ambassador. When Americans tune in to the daily White House press briefing, they see the first openly gay White House Press Secretary representing my Administration on the world stage.
But this is just the beginning. I rescinded the discriminatory ban on transgender service members, paving the way for these brave Americans to once again serve openly in the United States military. I signed an Executive Order on Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce, taking additional steps to ensure that LGBTQI+ public servants are treated with dignity and respect. I also signed a landmark Executive Order charging the Federal Government to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Federal agencies have since strengthened or clarified protections for LGBTQI+ Americans in housing, health care, education, employment, credit and lending services, and the criminal justice system. Just last year, I proudly signed the Respect for Marriage Act to defend the rights of LGBTQI+ and interracial couples.
The struggle for equal justice is not over. Today and in each generation, we must rededicate ourselves to ending the hatred and discrimination that LGBTQI+ Americans continue to face. That includes addressing a wave of discriminatory laws that target them — especially transgender children — and that echo the hateful stereotypes and stigma of the Lavender Scare. My Administration is standing firmly with brave LGBTQI+ Americans to push back against these injustices.
Great nations face their history openly and honestly: the good, the bad, and the truth. Today, we make our message simple to every public servant who suffered from the un-American policies and discrimination of the Lavender Scare: We see your sacrifices. We acknowledge what you lost and what you wrongfully endured. I have mandated my Administration to do all we can to write a new chapter of our American story that will demonstrate our abiding commitment to equal rights, respect for human dignity, and limitless opportunity for all.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 27, 2023, as the 70th Anniversary of the Lavender Scare. I call upon government officials and the people of the United States of America to honor the contributions of LGBTQI+ public servants, to recognize the lives impacted by the Lavender Scare, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-seventh.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.
The "lavender scare" was a moral panic about homosexual people in the United States government which led to their mass dismissal from government service during the mid-20th century. It contributed to and paralleled the anti-communist campaign which is known as McCarthyism and the Second Red Scare. Gay men and lesbians were said to be national security risks and communist sympathizers, which led to the call to remove them from state employment. It was thought that gay people were more susceptible to being manipulated, which could pose a threat to the country. Lesbians were at less risk of persecution than gay men, but some lesbians were interrogated or lost their jobs.
In 1947, at the beginning of the Cold War and the heightened concern about internal security, the State Department began campaigns to rid the department of communists and homosexuals, and they established a set of "security principles" that went on to inspire the creation of a dual loyalty-security test which became the model for other government agencies, as well as the basis for a government-wide security program under President Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration. Under the criteria of the State Department's security principles, "disloyal" persons included communists, their associates, and those guilty of espionage, along with persons known for "habitual drunkenness, sexual perversion, moral turpitude, financial irresponsibility or criminal record," and were to be denied federal employment. With the inclusion of "sexual perversion" among those considered unsuitable for federal employment, discrimination against homosexuals was implicitly built into State Department policy, and it was grandfathered into federal governmental protocol and procedure. Between 1947 and 1950, over 1700 applicants to federal jobs were denied the positions due to allegations of homosexuality.
Even before the 1947 establishment of State Department security principles, the United States military had developed discriminatory policies targeting gay men and lesbians. In 1940, President Roosevelt and his Selective Service advisers were convinced by psychiatrists of the need to implement screening programs to determine the mental health of potential soldiers as to reduce the cost of psychiatric rehabilitation for returning veterans. Although the initial plan for psychiatric screenings of military recruits included no direct references to homosexuality, within a year, direct references were added – this development in military bureaucratic processes contributed towards the momentum of the military's preoccupation with homosexuality during World War II. The new psychiatric screening directives and procedures introduced to the military the idea that homosexuals were unfit to serve in the armed forces because they were mentally ill: a change from the military's traditional way of approaching homosexuality as a crime. During World War I, punishment of homosexual soldiers was first codified in American military law, and during World War II, final regulations were declared and homosexuals were banned from all branches of the military in 1943. Despite all of the regulations, the need for troops allowed for loopholes regarding the acceptance/rejection of homosexuals to fight in war. Around 4,000–5,000 out of 18 million men that had been in consideration were turned away. Those serving in the military were ordered to report homosexual acts by other soldiers that were serving. Between two thousand and five thousand soldiers were suspected to be homosexuals in the military, where women were discharged at a higher rate than men.
If the influx of people into Washington, D.C., during the New Deal created the urban and professional environments that allowed a gay and lesbian subculture to flourish, then World War II accelerated the process: for many lesbians and gay men, the war was a national coming out experience. Mobilization for World War II and the war experience gave birth to a new addition to the American social urban landscape – the lesbian and gay community. To many Americans, this visible homosexual subculture seemed to prove their suspicions that the war had loosened puritanical moral codes, broadened sexual mores and certainly represented a viable threat to ideals of puritanical gender roles, heterosexuality, and the nuclear family. After the war, as families were united and as Americans struggled to put their lives back together, a national narrative rigorously promoted and propagated idealized versions of the nuclear family, heterosexuality, and traditional gender roles in the home and the workplace.
In February 1950, the same year that Senator Joseph McCarthy claimed 205 communists were working in the State Department, Undersecretary of State John Peurifoy said that the State Department had allowed 91 homosexuals to resign. Only two of these were women. Following this, the administration of President Harry Truman was accused of not taking the "threat" of homosexuality seriously enough. In June 1950, an investigation by the Senate began into the government's employment of homosexuals. The results were not released until December, but in the mean time federal job losses due to allegations of homosexuality increased greatly, rising from approximately 5 to 60 per month. On April 19, 1950, the Republican National Chairman Guy George Gabrielson said that "sexual perverts who have infiltrated our Government in recent years" were "perhaps as dangerous as the actual Communists". The danger was not solely because they were gay, however. Homosexuals were considered to be more susceptible to blackmail and thus were labeled as security risks. McCarthy hired Roy Cohn as chief counsel of his Congressional subcommittee. Together, McCarthy and Cohn – with the enthusiastic support of the head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover – were responsible for the firing of scores of gay men and women from government employment, and strong-armed many opponents into silence using rumors of their homosexuality. In 1953, during the final months of the Truman administration, the State Department reported that it had fired 425 employees for allegations of homosexuality.
McCarthy often used accusations of homosexuality as a smear tactic in his anti-communist crusade, often combining the Second Red Scare with the Lavender Scare. On one occasion, he went so far as to announce to reporters, "If you want to be against McCarthy, boys, you've got to be either a Communist or a cocksucker." At least one recent historian has argued that, by linking communism and homosexuality with psychological imbalance, McCarthy was employing guilt-by-association when evidence for communist activity was lacking. Political rhetoric at the time often linked communists and homosexuals, and common beliefs among the public were similar, stating that both were "morally weak" or "psychologically disturbed," along with being godless and undermining traditional families.
For example, McCarthy spoke on the Senate floor about two individual people, "Case 14" and "Case 62," as communists who were "unsafe risks" which he directly linked to their homosexuality. He said a top intelligence official had told him "every active communist is twisted mentally or physically," and he implied that these people were vulnerable to recruitment by communists because of their "peculiar mental twists" of homosexuality.
Due to the image of the State Department now being tainted with homosexuality, many male employees became self-conscious about the possibility of being perceived as homosexual. They often refused to be seen in pairs, and made statements confirming their heterosexuality when introducing themselves. For example, one unnamed employee often said at parties, "Hi, I'm so-and-so, I work for the State Department. I'm married and I have three children."
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, the first LGBTQ individual to serve in her role, tweeted that the anniversary of the original executive order is of “personal importance” to her.
“It’s a reminder of how far we’ve come and the work that continues under this Administration to advance full inclusion and equal protection for LGBTQI+ Americans,” she said.
“I don’t think we should be surprised at all,” says Don Christensen, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who served as the Air Force’s chief prosecutor. “It’s clear that we at least have a subculture of racism and antisemitism within the military, and that there are people who are willing to act out by sharing classified information or making terroristic threats against those minorities or Jewish people.”
The military is one of the nation’s most diverse organizations, and only a small percentage of servicemembers are racist. But when it comes to leaks, even a handful of white nationalists can do a lot of damage.
Teixeira’s racism appears to have been more casual, rather than organized and violent, like other racist members of the military who have recently faced charges. A video of him at a shooting range obtained by The Washington Post showed the Air National Guardsman yelling racist and antisemitic slurs while popping off rounds at a shooting range. And on his Discord servers, users regularly posted similar memes.
It’s unclear what made Teixeira post volumes of sensitive documents on social media. He embraced right-wing conspiracy theories, including a false claim that the white-supremacist massacre at a Buffalo grocery store was part of a secret government plot. But he mostly appeared keen to share classified documents in order to revel in the awe of the young teenagers who looked up to the 21-year-old in his small Discord server.
During the House Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee on Select Coronavirus Crisis hearing Wednesday, the Republican congresswoman decided to grill Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, about her credentials.
“Are you a medical doctor?” Greene asked, followed by, “Are you a mother?”
Weingarten admitted she was not a doctor and was “a mother by marriage” and added that her wife was also at the hearing.
Greene then noted that Weingarten hadn’t taught a class since the 1990s, to which the union leader pointed out that she would be a guest teacher at Cornell University later in the year.
Greene grilled Weingarten about a tweet the union leader posted that supported Twitter suspending Greene, leading her to say that Weingarten was more of “a political activist” than anything else on her resume.
After Greene raged about Black Lives Matter, Weingarten delivering supplies to teachers in Ukraine and COVID-19 school closures, Weingarten tried to speak up in protest.
That set Greene off even more, and she railed against Weingarten for, among other things, not being a biological parent.
“I didn’t ask you a question. What I would like to talk about is your recommendations to the CDC, as not a medical doctor, not a biological mother, and really not a teacher, either. So, what you did is you advised the CDC?” Greene said.
The exchange inspired Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) to mention Greene’s unacceptable decorum and give Weingarten a moment to note that she is a mother whether Greene believes her to be or not.
I'll stay with the people -- all the people. Especially the ones who need allies. Especially the ones who are targeted because of their race or their gender or the sexuality.
The former Fox News host has long been the target of advertiser boycotts due to the fascist content consistently churned out on his show. Carlson’s anti-immigrant and racist program was frequently the highest-rated show on Fox during the Trump presidency and following his failed coup, drawing upwards of 3 million viewers a night.
expressed his dismay at Carlson’s departure, writing on his social media
network, “The fact that Tucker Carlson will no longer be on Fox News is
a big blow to Cable News, and to America. Tucker was insightful,
interesting, and ratings gold. He will be greatly missed!”
Similarly, Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson wrote on Twitter that Carlson “has been engaging in the best journalism on TV uncovering and exposing the truth. This is a huge loss to Fox News.”
Disoriented middle-class and libertarian elements, such as journalists Glenn Greenwald, Max Blumenthal, Anya Parampil and Aaron Maté along with comedian Jimmy Dore and fascist Jackson Hinkle also took to social media to praise Carlson, primarily for his professed opposition to US involvement in the Ukraine war and the Syrian civil war.
Carlson, an early proponent of the Iraq war, is not a genuine opponent of US imperialism but, like Trump, seeks to capitalize on broad antiwar sentiment in the working class, and channel it to the advantage of the Republican Party.
+ Tucker Carlson’s transformation from the brattish scion of a “Deep State” diplomat and former head of Voice of America to a bow-tie-wearing talk show smart-aleck into the white working-class tribune of Fox Populi is one of the greatest acts of political crossdressing in American history.
+ As in all these cases, Tucker’s offense wasn’t his racism or lies or on-air libels but threatening the bottom-line of the Boss. There are many more Tuckers being test-driven now in Rupert’s Body Shop.
+ When Tucker was asked the pressing question of our time, “What is a woman?” He apparently answered with the C-word.
+ We are meant to believe that the man who built his media empire by running photos of topless women (many of them barely legal teenagers) on page 3 of The Sun every day for 44 years fired Tucker Carlson for being a misogynist.
+ Is this the best the NYT has dug up about the offenses of Fox’s Wanker of Mass Destruction? “In video obtained by The Times…Mr. Carlson is shown discussing his “postmenopausal fans” … and in another video, he is overheard describing a woman he finds “yummy.””
+ Someone said Tucker sounds like a sober Charlie Sheen. Sounds about right.
+ Some of us are old enough to remember when Rupert fired himself, his son James, Les Hinton (head of Dow Jones), and his favorite editor, Rebekah Brooks, after the phone-hacking scandal and not much changed at NewsCorp., politically or in terms of their “journalistic” practices.
+ The fact that FoxNews apparently has an executive charged with amassing kompromat files on some of its biggest stars, including Tucker Carlson, is one of the Foxiest things ever.
+ FoxNews doesn’t seem to be dialing it back. Laura Ingraham this week: Democrats “believe that everyone in this audience, every one of you sitting here tonight, they — if they could, I really believe they would shut you down, whether put you in a camp, or put you — send you away somewhere so you’re never heard from again.”
+ Like many authoritarian demagogues, Tucker Carlson seems to be a truly weird person. His obsessions–filth, bizarre animal stories (“sex crazed pandas” and “psycho raccoons”), obesity, bodily excrescences, the subliminal messages of candy, testicle tanning–which he regularly inflicted on his audiences, range far beyond the usual tabloid grotesqueries and border on the pathological.
+ Still, we tend to vastly overstate the influence of cable-news bobbleheads like Tucker Carlson. On his best nights, Carlson had around 3 million watched his show for at least a couple of minutes, less than 1 percent of the US population. So, literally almost no one was watching him, which is how it should be.
+ The day after Fox fired Carlson and CNN booted Don Lemon, ABC terminated Nate Silver. Silver’s smug, poll-driven prognostications on just about everything had as pernicious an effect on political life in the US as the racist ranting of Tucker Carlson. Good riddance to both.
+ According to Nate Silver, Nate Silver had a 99.5% chance of keeping his job.
+ There’s rampant speculation over what “possessed” Rupert to fire Carlson, but I think we’ve finally located someone who’s divined the answer: demons.
A cache of documents has undermined key evidence that was relied upon by Iraqi authorities to jail the Australian engineer Robert Pether, prompting renewed calls for his release.
Pether, a father of three, has meanwhile made allegations that a “confession” statement used against him was mistranslated by a biased employee of Iraq’s central bank before being handed to court.
Pether and his colleague Khaled Saad Zaghloul were jailed in 2021 for five years and fined US$12m over allegations their engineering firm defrauded the Iraqi government during a project to build the Central Bank of Iraq’s new headquarters.
Pether’s employer CME Consulting was accused of continuing to bill the government for the work of a subcontractor, Meinhardt, despite having told Meinhardt to stop work on the project almost immediately after the two firms signed a contract.
Testimony obtained by Guardian Australia shows that a Meinhardt employee told an Iraqi court that CME had told the subcontractor to stop work “three weeks after signing the contract”.
The employee alleged CME then ceased all contact with Meinhardt.
“We left the issue and the accused Khaled Saad Zaghloul did not contact us at all,” the Meinhardt employee’s 11 May 2021 testimony says.
“[We] told [the Central Bank of Iraq] that the accused Khaled Saad Zaghloul informed us in 2017 that the project had stopped so we left the case and that we did not send any of our engineers to the project site and did not provide any engineering consultations.”
But email correspondence reveals extensive contact continued between CME and Meinhardt for months, at odds with what the court was told.
The documents reveal that CME and senior Meinhardt employees exchanged 51 emails between January and July in 2018. The last of these was dated more than six months after the contract, also obtained by the Guardian, was signed.
The Meinhardt employee who authored the prosecution testimony was copied into five CME-Meinhardt emails from May to late June 2018, six months after the time he alleged all contact had ceased.
According to records obtained by The Guardian, CME and top Meinhardt personnel exchanged 51 emails between January and July 2018. The last of these was dated over six months after the contract.
From May to late June 2018, the Meinhardt employee who provided the prosecution testimony was copied into five CME-Meinhardt communications, six months after he claimed all interaction had halted.
Meanwhile, Pether, a father of three, alleged that a “confession” statement used against him was mistranslated by a biased employee of Iraq’s central bank before being handed to court.
Pether told The Guardian: “I recognized (my) translator as soon as he came into the room. He was known to me since 2016.
“Apart from facial recognition, he also has some distinguishing marks and characteristics.”
The Guardian has obtained contemporaneous court records confirming Pether brought this up during his criminal trial and complained that his translated statement was flawed and incorrect.