HRC Blog

Public-Records Details Efforts to Fire LGBT People from Government Jobs for Three Decades

ENDAFor the past two years Charles Francis, a gay-rights advocate with the Mattachine Society of Washington, has uncovered papers that show past government efforts to drive LGBT people away from jobs. The New York Times reports that Francis has been collecting documents on the government’s anti-gay policies, filling a gap that he sees in the archives of the gay-rights movement.

“Gay and lesbian history is often ignored or deleted,” Francis said in an interview with the New York Times. “It didn’t happen.”

Starting in the 1950’s with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s Sex Deviate program, the F.B.I. was able to collect and share information on people suspected of being LGBT. In 1964 John W. Steele, a staff member of the Civil Service Commission, wrote a letter explaining the policy: “Some feel that ‘once a homo, always a homo … Our tendency to ‘lean over backwards’ to rule against a homosexual is simply a manifestation of the revulsion which homosexuality inspires in the normal person.”

In the face of lawsuits and protests, the federal government rescinded its anti-LGBT policy in 1975.

In 1977 the F.B.I. incinerated 330,000 pages of documents related to the program. The efforts of Mr. Francis and other historians have shed a light on this dark time on U.S. history.

Last year HRC launched a campaign for Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). ENDA would provide basic protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. ENDA simply affords to all Americans basic employment protection from discrimination based on irrational prejudice. To voice your support for ENDA, take action now.

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