Sixty years ago, the federal government spearheaded a massive purge of gay employees, no matter how qualified or essential they were to their department's operations. The firings were the result of an executive order by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on April 27, 1953. As told in the documentary Lavender Scare, even LGBT private sector workers who were under contract with the federal government were also fired or forced to resign.
Why? Because gay people were viewed as a godless, immoral group likely to work with communists to spill government secrets.
After decades of activism, policy changes at federal agencies, and state laws protecting LGBT citizens, 94 percent of the top 100 companies in the U.S. — the top 50 federal contractors and the top 50 Fortune 500 companies — have policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 78 percent of the companies have policies prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.
Nine in every 10 American voters believe that there are already laws to protect LGBT employees in the workplace, just like policies for women, people with disabilities, racial minorities, or people with particular religious affiliations. But that's not the case. An employee could still be fired in 29 states for being gay, and in 34 states for being transgender or gender non-conforming.
So as we mark 60 years since the federal government's mass firings, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is finally set for a vote in the Senate on Monday (the 19th time Congress has considered it). With a Republican-dominated House of Representatives, ENDA might be tough to gain momentum even though, according to the Center for American Progress, 73 percent of voters support protections for LGBT workers (even 66 percent among Republicans voters).
On the following pages, we've assembled a small handful of people who have been pushed out or fired from their jobs in the past few years just for being who they are.