As part of its clampdown on LGBTQ issues, the administration of Donald Trump removed from the U.S. State Department website an apology from former Secretary of State John Kerry to the LGBTQ community for discrimination based on sexual orientation by the department back in the 1950s.
“(T)he 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’s statement, which was posted on the website in early January, said. “These actions were wrong then, just as they would be wrong today.”
The department used to reject applications from any person they suspected to be gay while as many as 1,000 people in the 1950s and 1960s were forced to resign due to discrimination.
"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 Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a statement Monday.
"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.”
Also just hours after Trump was inaugurated Friday, the LGBTQ section of the White House’s website was removed along with any references to climate change, while the Spanish version of the White House page was deleted.
“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,” Griffin added.
“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,” he demanded.
When asked about the removed content Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that all of the content would return to the site as the administration revamps its issues pages.
Also the fact-checking website Politifact pointed out that the Obama administration had turned over all its content to the National Archives and Records, which have been preserved at ObamaWhiteHouse.archives.gov.
However, activists are also alarmed over a vague answer by Spicer when asked about Obama’s 2014 executive order banning all federal contractors from discriminating against applicants or employees from the LGBTQ community. Estimates are that 14 million people work for federal contractors in the United States.
“I don’t know on that one. I have to get back to you on that. I don’t think that we’ve gotten that far in the list of executive orders, but I’d be glad to get back to you,” he told reporters Monday.
Several members of the Trump administration have anti-LGBTQ positions including his Vice President Mike Pence who is said to have supported “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ people. He has also opposed Obama’s anti-discrimination policies as well as same-sex marriage.