WASHINGTON – Forty-six years after President Eisenhower signed an executive order that set the Lavender Scare in motion on April 1953, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and his colleagues have reintroduced the Lavender Offense Victim Exoneration Act, or LOVE Act, to recognize the shameful purge of at least 1,000 LGBTI people from the State Department during the 1950s and 1960s; and to protect today’s State Department employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Cardin first introduced the legislation in 2017.
“The current Administration may work to avoid using the words lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, but Congress should take firm action to show LGBT Americans that their valuable contributions to our country – today or 60+ years ago – are very real and they are recognized. We cannot and should not turn our backs on the individuals who sacrificed so much for the benefit of the American people. We cannot and will not turn back the clock on the hard-fought civil rights of the LGBT community,” Senator Cardin said.
The LOVE Act directs the State Department to review all employee terminations since 1950, to identify all those who were wrongfully terminated because of their sexual orientation, and would establish a Reconciliation Board to hear their stories and correct their official records. The LOVE Act also directs the Department to create an Advancement Board to address sexual discrimination against LGBTI diplomats and their families.
In addition to Cardin, the bill is cosponsored by Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn,), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Van Hollen(D-Md.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).