“LOVE Act” and the State Department

Recently introduced legislation would require the State Department to take actions for firing employees decades ago based on sexual orientation.

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has introduced S. 2152, the “Lavender Offense Victim Exoneration Act of 2019”. The Senator also refers to it as the “LOVE Act”.

“Lavender” As a Symbol

For those who may have missed the cultural reference of the term “lavender” in the title of the bill, it is sometimes used to refer to gay men. Wikipedia notes, “Just as in the 1890s mauve symbolized homosexuality, the tone of lavender…became the symbol of homosexuality in the 1950s and 1960s. The first usage was in the 1920s to indicate an effeminate style.” 

Purpose of the Bill

According to a press release from the bill’s sponsor, the purpose of the bill is “to recognize the shameful purge of at least 1,000 LGBTI people from the State Department during the 1950s and 1960s; and to protect today’s State Department employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”

Keeping up with the initials and what they stand for is confusing. LGBTI refers to “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersexed”.  

The LOVE act is sponsored by 20 Democrats and is currently given a 29% chance of passage by GovTrack.

What the Bill Would Require

The LOVE Act would require the State Department to review all employee terminations since 1950. The purpose would be to identify employees who were fired because of their sexual orientation.

It would also require establishing a Reconciliation Board. This board would listen to their recitation of what happened and correct official records. The LOVE Act would also require State to establish an “Advancement Board” to address sexual discrimination against LGBTI diplomats and their families.

Resurfacing the Issue 

This is not the first time the issue has been publicized in recent years. Former Secretary of State John Kerry issued a formal apology to former State Department employees who were fired based on sexual orientation.

Also, the LOVE Act was first introduced in 2017, shortly after John Kerry’s formal apology for the State Department’s past discrimination against gay and lesbian federal workers.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47