Secretary of State John Kerry makes formal apology for past LGBTQ discrimination in the US

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Secretary of State John Kerry issued a powerful statement on Monday with a formal apology addressed to the United States' LGBTQ communities for the country's history of anti-gay discrimination. 

"On behalf of the Department, I apologize to those who were impacted by the practices of the past and reaffirm the department's steadfast commitment to diversity and inclusion for all our employees, including members of the LGBTI community," the statement read. 

"In the past – as far back as the 1940s, but continuing for decades – the Department of State was among many public and private employers that discriminated against employees and job applicants on the basis of perceived sexual orientation, forcing some employees to resign or refusing to hire certain applicants in the first place. These actions were wrong then, just as they would be wrong today."

John Kerry
Source: 
Michael Dwyer/AP

The formal apology is in the wake of a request from Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who requested that Kerry, on Nov. 29, apologize for the "un-American and unacceptable" discrimination against gays and lesbians during the Lavender Scare. The Lavender Scare was a mass political persecution of gays and lesbians during Sen. Joseph McCarthy's anti-communism purge, also known as the "Red Scare," in the mid-20th century.

"There is little we can do to undo the hurts and wrongs of the past," Cardin's letter read, according to the Washington Blade. "But we can take steps to assure that the lessons of these episodes are learned and remembered, and in so doing make a contribution to assuring that such injustice will never transpire again."

In the letter, Cardin noted that from the 1950s and into the 1960s, approximately 1,000 people were removed from their positions at the State Department "for alleged homosexuality." 

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Sarah A. Harvard

Sarah is a staff writer covering religion, race and politics. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Atlantic, Slate, The Huffington Post, TeenVogue, and VICE. Send tips and feedback: sharvard@mic.com

MORE FROM

Nearly 850 backlogged rape kits were found infested with mold in Texas

The mold-infested rape kits don't appear to have contaminated the DNA samples inside, according to authorities.

Season 11 of 'The X-Files' will be written entirely by men

Only six women have ever written for the beloved sci-fi show, which boasts over 200 episodes and spawned two feature-length films.

Does nursing require a "woman’s touch"? These male nurses say no.

Christian Martin and Dan Douglas are two men working as nurses — and it's mostly NBD.

The GOP health care bill's one-year ban on Planned Parenthood is a bigger problem than you think

Compared to the millions who will lose coverage, restricting federal funds for just 365 days doesn't seem that bad. But it is.

There's a new effort to recall Judge Aaron Perksy, who sentenced Brock Turner

If voters in Persky's county collect enough signatures, the judge could be on the chopping block in 2018.

A Czech company made interns compete in a bikini contest to get hired

A spokesperson from the company said the competition was to "promote technical education."

Nearly 850 backlogged rape kits were found infested with mold in Texas

The mold-infested rape kits don't appear to have contaminated the DNA samples inside, according to authorities.

Season 11 of 'The X-Files' will be written entirely by men

Only six women have ever written for the beloved sci-fi show, which boasts over 200 episodes and spawned two feature-length films.

Does nursing require a "woman’s touch"? These male nurses say no.

Christian Martin and Dan Douglas are two men working as nurses — and it's mostly NBD.

The GOP health care bill's one-year ban on Planned Parenthood is a bigger problem than you think

Compared to the millions who will lose coverage, restricting federal funds for just 365 days doesn't seem that bad. But it is.

There's a new effort to recall Judge Aaron Perksy, who sentenced Brock Turner

If voters in Persky's county collect enough signatures, the judge could be on the chopping block in 2018.

A Czech company made interns compete in a bikini contest to get hired

A spokesperson from the company said the competition was to "promote technical education."