WASHINGTON Jan 9 U.S. Secretary of State John
Kerry on Monday apologized to hundreds of State Department
employees who were fired after the start of the Cold War for
being gay in what is known as the "lavender scare."
"In the past - as far back as the 1940s, but continuing for
decades - the Department of State was among many public and
private employers that discriminated against employees and job
applicants on the basis of perceived sexual orientation, forcing
some employees to resign or refusing to hire certain applicants
in the first place," Kerry said in a statement. "These actions
were wrong then, just as they would be wrong today."
He added: "On behalf of the Department, I apologize to those
who were impacted by the practices of the past and reaffirm the
Department's steadfast commitment to diversity and inclusion for
all our employees, including members of the LGBTI community."
U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, the leading Democrat on the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee from Maryland, wrote Kerry in
November referring to the time as a "deep stain on our national
history and that of the State Department."
Cardin told Kerry he intended to "remedy this injustice" by
introducing legislation to acknowledge the "lavender scare"
years and offer an apology on behalf of Congress.
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Sandra Maler)