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Biden issues first presidential proclamation recognizing 'Lavender Scare'

President Biden issued the first presidential proclamation recognizing the impact of the “Lavender Scare” — a period of time starting in the 1950s that lasted decades in which LGBTQ Americans were banned from serving in the federal government. 

Biden said in a proclamation on Wednesday that the country has made “tremendous progress” in advancing equality for the LGBTQ community but needs to “reflect honestly on the darkest chapters of our story.” 

President Dwight Eisenhower signed an executive order banning the LGBTQ individuals from federal service over 70 years ago this week, according to the National Archives. 

The order led to thousands of government employees being investigated, forcibly outed and fired from their jobs over the course of decades. 

“On this anniversary, we acknowledge the importance of telling the complete history of our Nation, reflecting on the lives changed by this discrimination, honoring the courageous Americans who fought to end this injustice, and celebrating the contributions of today’s proud LGBTQI+ public servants — including members of our Armed Forces,” Biden said. 

The Lavender Scare occurred alongside the Red Scare of the 1950s in which fears of communist sympathizers were rampant, spurred on by Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.). 

Aspects of the order were gradually lifted beginning in the 1970s. Former President Obama also issued an order officially revoking the original executive order before leaving office in 2017. 

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, the first LGBTQ individual to serve in her role, tweeted that the anniversary of the original executive order is of “personal importance” to her. 

“It’s a reminder of how far we’ve come and the work that continues under this Administration to advance full inclusion and equal protection for LGBTQI+ Americans,” she said. 

Biden said in his proclamation that each generation needs to recommit to ending the hatred and discrimination that LGBTQ Americans face, including laws that states have implemented that target them like bans on transgender youth having access to gender-affirming care. 

“Great nations face their history openly and honestly: the good, the bad, and the truth,” the proclamation states. “Today, we make our message simple to every public servant who suffered from the un-American policies and discrimination of the Lavender Scare: We see your sacrifices.”

“We acknowledge what you lost and what you wrongfully endured,” it reads.

Source: The Hill

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