Tag Archives: LGBTQ Federal Employees

Looking Back – America’s Biggest LGBT Right Defeats.

In the past couple of years the LGBT community has seen a number of victories in America when it comes to equal rights in employment, marriage and politics. However we should never forget that it took a lot defeats to get to those victories.

We take a look back at America’s biggest gay right defeats.

1950 – The Lavender Scare

The Lavender Scare refers to the persecution of gays and lesbians in 1950s, and in particular the anti-communist campaign – known as McCarthyism. While McCarthyism is very well known, a lesser-known element was the the targeting of gays and lesbians. At this time, homosexuality was regarded as a mental illness, and because of that politicians believed they were easy prey for blackmailers (especially communists blackmailers), thus constituting a security risk. The result – thousands of federal employees lost their jobs.

By 1953 President Dwight Eisenhower formally signed Executive Order 10450 banning homosexuals from working for the federal government or any of its private contractors. The policy wasn’t officially rescinded until 1995 when President Bill Clinton did so with Executive Order, which included an anti-discrimination statement that reads:

“The United States Government does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation in granting access to classified information.”

1952 – APA Lists Homosexuality as a ’Sociopathic Personality Disturbance’ Disorder

Homosexuality was first labelled a mental illness in the 30’s, however in 1952 the American Psychiatric Association officially listed homosexuality as a sociopathic personality disturbance. In a report know as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), it included a category called sexual deviation as a subtype of sociopathic personality disturbance. The second publication of the DSM in 1968 continued to list homosexuality as a disorder and formally gave the “disease” its own code – 302.0. It wasn’t until 1973 that the board of the American Psychiatric Association finally voted to remove homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.

1977 – Anita Bryant Wages Successful Campaign to Repeal Pro-Gay Rights Ordinance

Anita Bryant – Singer and spokeswoman for Florida’s orange juice industry led a successful crusade called “Save Our Children” repealing gay rights ordinance in Dade County. Bryant faced severe backlash from gay rights supporters across the U.S. and many gay bars boycotted orange juice in their establishments. The ordinance was finally reinstated on December 1, 1998, more than 20 years after the campaign.

1986 – Supreme Court Upholds Sodomy Laws

The Supreme Court decided to uphold the constitutionality of a Georgia sodomy law, which criminalized oral and anal sex in private between consenting adults when applied to homosexuals. It was a huge setback to the gay rights movement. The Supreme Court reversed their decision in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas, which invalidated a similar Texas sodomy law.

1990 – Court Rules Gays Can be Denied Security Clearance

High Tech Gays, an organization for gays in the high tech industry, challenged the Department of Defense’s long standing policy of not giving security clearances to applicants who were known or thought to be homosexual. The group won in district court, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals later reversed the decision.

1993 – ’Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ Enacted

The “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy was introduced as a compromise by President Bill Clinton, who campaigned in 1992 on the promise to allow all citizens to serve in the military regardless of sexual orientation. DADT prohibited military personnel from harassing or discriminating against gay and lesbian service members as long as they stayed in the closet. The policy turned out to be disaster as more gay and lesbian service men being discharged because of their sexual orientation than before. “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy was ruled unconstitutional in federal court in 2010.

1996 – Defense of Marriage Act Becomes Law

In 1996 both houses of congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act with a veto proof majority, and President Bill Clinton signed it into law. The law barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage and defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. It also stated that no state can be forced to recognize a same-sex marriage from another state. The first part of that was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013 with United States v. Windsor. The second part has since been ruled unconstitutional by several lower courts.

2004 – 13 American States Formally Ban gay marriage

In 2004 the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that the state must recognize same-sex marriage, making it state the first in the nation to do so. However, 13 states formally banned gay marriage including Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio, Utah, Oklahoma, and Michigan.

2008 – Prop 8 Bans Same-Sex Marriage in California

In 2008 the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality. The anti-gay forces though quickly rallied together, getting enough signatures to put the issue up for a vote later that year. In November that year, the voters approved Proposition 8, making gay marriage illegal. The loss was a massive blow. But when the law was challenged in federal court it was ruled unconstitutional, and set the stage for a potentially historic Supreme Court decision. In the end, the lower court’s decision was upheld on a technicality, making gay marriage in the state once again legal.

Source – Edge San Francisco

Obama Signs Executive Order to Protect LGBTQ Federal Employees

By definition, an executive order is “a rule or order issued by the president to an executive branch of the government and having the force of law”. Rather than our run of the mill laws that stop us from doing things like sticking up an entire supermarket for its ice cream sandwiches or bursting every fire hydrant on the street in the name of ‘Summer hydration’, executive orders simply tell certain parts of the United States government how they’re meant to do their jobs. Last week, that meant that United States President Barack Obama signed an executive order to bar federal contractors (business that have contracts with the United States to complete certain jobs or tasks) from discriminating against their hired workers on the ground of sexual orientation or gender identity. That was a groundbreaking move as it meant that LGBTQ workers would be further protected but with questions being asked about the protections for LGBTQ workers employed directly by the United States government, Obama has swiftly silenced doubters.

How did he do this? With another executive order! Being the President sure has its benefits and now the advantages of this are being extended to LGBTQ federal employees as the second historic executive order signed by the man in charge of the USA sees anti-discrimination protection extended to those too. What the executive order covers is a great deal of things and it means that finally, LGBTQ federal employees (this includes those who are transgender or gender non-conforming if the binary isn’t your thing) cannot be fired, denied promotion, or passed up on being hired based on gender identity or sexual orientation. In short, it means that everyone on the government’s payroll in some way, shape or form can get on with the jobs they intended to do without the laws holding them down!

In a speech that got laughs, smiles and even applause as President Obama detailed all of the positive things that his country had succeeded in passing (removing the Defense of Marriage Act and the same-gender marriage victories were both mentioned), he also explained that a large aspect of his decision to make these executive orders is because Congress, often halted by Republican opposition to more progressive laws, has failed to do so,

“The majority of Fortune 500 companies already have nondiscrimination policies to protect their employees because it’s the right thing to do and because many say it helps to retain and attract the best talent. And I agree. So if Congress won’t act, I will. I have directed my staff to prepare an executive order for my signature that prohibits discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. (Applause.)”

Granted, there’s still a long way to go yet but hopefully with Obama signing incredibly important executive orders left and right, Congress and politicians on a state level will get it together and follow suit too.