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Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia introduced a resolution this morning that could pave the way for a formal apology from the Senate for its anti-LGBTQ+ purges in the military, foreign service, and federal civil service.
Kaine penned the lengthy resolution, along with out Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, with hopes of getting it passed by the full Senate, which Democrats like Kaine and Baldwin just barely control. A summary of the "S. Res." reads as follows:
"Acknowledging and apologizing for the mistreatment of, and discrimination against, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals who served the United States in the Armed Forces, the Foreign Service, and the Federal civil service."
The resolution goes into extensive detail about how the government "investigated, harassed, interrogated, and terminated thousands" of LGBTQ+ Americans from the government's numerous arms. Specifically mentioned are nefarious actions like the explicit "homosexual" ban by the Defense Department in 1949, a 1953 executive order from President Dwight Eisenhower banning "perversion" -- a coded word for queer people -- from the federal civil service, and Senator Joe McCarthy's hunting of LGBTQ+ employees in the State Department in the 1950s, an effort that continued for decades.
"Whereas more than 1,000 Department of State employees were dismissed due to their sexual orientation, and many more individuals were prevented from joining the Department of State due to discriminatory hiring practices," the resolution lays out.
Extensive space in the resolution is devoted to apologizing for the various bans on LGBTQ+ service members, including 1993's supposed compromise "don't ask, don't tell," which finally allowed queer people to serve in the military, but only if they stayed in the closet. Transgender individuals also received an apology; trans people were banned from service until 2016, when President Obama signed an executive order ending the ban. A year later, President Trump reinstated it, but President Biden reversed Trump's reversal.
"Whereas the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 (10 U.S.C. 654 note; Public Law 111-321) and the 2016 policy shift of the Department of Defense, which permitted transgender individuals to enlist and openly serve in the Armed Forces, has made the Armed Forces stronger and more effective," the resolution reads. "Whereas military leaders have likewise acknowledged that, in addition to lesbian, gay, and bisexual military service members, transgender service members also serve the United States just as bravely and well as other service members."
Kaine, a member of the of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the following about the proposed resolution:
"Throughout our history, far too many people serving our nation have lived in fear of retribution or persecution because of their sexual orientation," Kaine said. "It's time to acknowledge the harm caused to these Americans, their families, and our country by depriving them of the right to serve as federal civil servants, diplomats, or in the Armed Services. I'm proud to introduce this Senate resolution during Pride Month to reaffirm our nation's commitment to treat everyone, including LGBT Americans, with equal respect and fairness. I will continue working toward advancing equality for all LGBT people in Virginia and across our nation."
Read the full resolution below.