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During Pride Month, Kaine & Baldwin Lead Resolution Apologizing for Government Discrimination Against LGBT Civil Servants, Servicemembers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) led the introduction of a Senate resolution that acknowledges and apologizes for the mistreatment of and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) individuals who have served our nation in the uniformed services, as civil servants, or in the Foreign Service.

“LGBT civil servants, foreign service officers and servicemembers have made countless sacrifices and contributions to our country and national security. Despite this, our government has subjected them to decades of harassment, invasive investigations and wrongful termination because of who they are or who they love,” said Kaine. “This Pride Month, I’m proud to lead this resolution alongside Senator Baldwin to reaffirm our commitment to righting our past wrongs and fighting for equality for all LGBT Americans.”

“Anyone who serves our country, whether they are in uniform or a civil servant, deserves to be treated with respect, fairness, and dignity, regardless of who they are or who they love,” said Baldwin. “I am proud to lead this effort to show our commitment to creating a more accepting, equal country that lives up to our nation’s ideals.”

The United States has a long, disturbing history of discrimination against servicemembers and other federal employees identifying as LGBT. Beginning in the early 1940s and continuing through the 1990s, a period historians label the “Lavender Scare,” thousands of federal employees were discriminated against because of their sexuality. At least 100,000 LGBT military service members were forced out of the Armed Forces between World War II and 2011, most recently due to the 1994-2011 ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, which prohibited servicemembers from disclosing their sexual orientation.

In 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13672, officially prohibiting the federal government and federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In 2023, the Department of Defense announced that it would undertake a proactive review of the service records of individuals discharged due to their sexual orientation to assess whether to grant them discharge upgrades. While these are significant steps in the right direction, we still have more work to do to ameliorate the harm done by decades of discriminatory policies.   

The senators have long fought for equal treatment and rights for all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Last year, they introduced the Equality Act, historic, comprehensive legislation to protect Americans from discrimination based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. In 2022, they helped pass the Respect for Marriage Act, which was signed into law to ensure that same-sex and interracial marriages are recognized by every state.

The resolution is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), John Fetterman (D-PA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Edward Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Mark R. Warner (D-VA).

Full text of the resolution is available here.