State Dept.'s Lavender Scare Apology Removed From Website

State Department

Activists are alarmed that another web page related to LGBT rights has disappeared from a government website.

The missing page is a statement from former Secretary of State John Kerry, who issued a formal apology this month to the LGBT goverment employees fired from their positions starting in the 1940s, when an anti-queer conspiracy known as the Lavender Scare rocked the State Department.

"These actions were wrong then, just as they would be wrong today," Kerry said. "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."

This apology disappeared Monday from the State Department's website, just days after Donald Trump was sworn in as president of the United States. The Wayback Machine, an internet archive, shows the statement still existing as late as Sunday. Also missing was information related to the State Department’s special envoy for the human rights of LGBT persons and Pride month observances.

Monday also marked the Senate committee confirmation of Rex Tillerson for secretary of State. Tillerson is the former CEO of ExxonMobil, which has a checkered past in regard to LGBT rights for employees. In addition, Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer, said Monday, "I just don't know" if the new commander in chief would repeal an executive order protecting LGBT federal contractors.

Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, condemned what the LGBT group fears may be a systematic "scrubbing" of queer history and advancements from government websites since Trump took office. Pages dedicated to LGBT rights also disappeared Friday from WhiteHouse.gov.

"With each passing hour, the Trump administration continues to show the extent of their contempt for the enormous progress made over the past eight years," said Griffin. "Secretary Kerry's apology to LGBTQ employees and their families who were targeted, harassed, and fired set the right tone for the State Department, even if it couldn't undo the damage done decades ago."

"It is outrageous that the new administration would attempt to erase from the record this historic apology for witch hunts that destroyed the lives of innocent Americans. The apology, along with the other important LGBTQ content that has been removed, should immediately be restored, and President Trump should condemn such behavior at all departments and agencies.”

Other resources have vanished on government websites since Trump took the oath of office. Pages devoted to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, civil rights, climate change, and the White House Council on Women and Girls have disappeared. In addition, the Department of Labor's "Advancing LGBT Workplace Rights" report web page is now a broken link.

Trump and his administration have vowed to erase Obama's achievements — which include contributions to civil rights, environmental protections, and health care — upon coming into power. However, the broken links, while ominous to some, may also be a symptom of a choppy transition.

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