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Menendez Introduces Bill to Address Past and Future Discrimination against LGBTI Diplomats

WASHINGTON – Forty-six years after President Eisenhower signed an executive order that set the Lavender Scare in motion in April 1953, Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, last night introduced 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. 

“It is long past time for the U.S. government to recognize the stories of the LGBTI members of the State Department who were treated unfairly during the ‘Lavender Scare’, and to offer them and their families a measure of justice,” said Senator Menendez. “Our nation is at its best when we live up to our values and highest aspirations. With this legislation,  Secretary Pompeo and every Member of the Trump administration can make certain that our LGBTI diplomats and development professionals are fully respected as full members of the State Department family.”

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. 

The bill is cosponsored by Senators 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.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), 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.).

A copy of the bill can be found here.