Friday, December 19, 2008

Recalling a dark day from 1953: Ike's XO regarding all federal civilians


On a night that NBC Dateline interviewed Rick Warren about his views on gay marriage (and the gay community’s affront to Barack Obama’s choice of him for the inauguration), I found, on a site called “Salem Press”, a reproduction from a series called “Great Events in History: LGBT Events” the story “President Eisenhower Prohibits Lesbian and Gay Federal Workers.” The story concerns Executive Order 10450, dated April 27, 1953, which formalized a policy that had been common during the Truman administration. The link is here.

The story is quite chilling now, and it points out that it also affected contractors working with the federal government. The article says “The New York Times reported the next day that, "The new [personnel security] program will require a new investigation of many thousands of employees previously investigated, as well as many more thousands who have had no security check." Apparently the investigatory procedures even in civilian service could amount to outright witch-hunts, later better known in the military. The reasoning was quite circular.

The Civil Service would reverse this practice around 1975, but it would take until the early 1990s for the situation to improve significantly with security clearances, which President Clinton would formalize in 1995. I worked for the Navy Department as a civilian from 1971-1982 (20 months) but left voluntarily when I could not get a Top Secret security clearance.

I hate to say it, but I remember the “I like Ike” buttons even if I was ten years old at the time.

Also, in the 1967 CBS show by Mike Wallace, "The Homosexuals," Secretary of State Dean Rusk, speaking about the State Department (LBJ Administration) said bluntly "When we find homosexuals in our department, we discharge them."

In those days, there really was no difference between Democratic and Republican administrations.

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