U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry holds a news conference at the State Department headquarters at the Harry S. Truman building January 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images
By Maya Rhodan
January 9, 2017

Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement on Monday apologizing for past discrimination against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community at the State Department.

“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,” the statement reads.

Kerry said that he has stood “strongly in support” of the LGBT community throughout his term in office, though he recognized that has not always been the case.

“In the past – as far back as the 1940s, but continuing for decades – the 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,” the statement reads. “These actions were wrong then, just as they would be wrong today.”

According to the Washington Blade, the statement came weeks after Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland sent a letter to Secretary Kerry asking for a formal apology for hundreds of firings that occurred during the so-called lavender scare, a Cold War effort to rid the State Department of gays and lesbians. In a Nov. 29 letter, Cardin wrote: “There is little we can do to undo the hurts and wrongs of the past. But we can take steps to assure that the lessons of these episodes are learned and remembered, and in so doing make a contribution to assuring that such injustice will never transpire again.”

Sen. Cardin thanked Secretary Kerry for his apology via Twitter on Monday.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday the statement sends a message to all Americans that they should not be judged based on “who they are or who they love.”

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