Gay History - April 27, 1953: President Dwight Eisenhower Signs Executive Order Banning Homosexuals From Working for the Federal Government

Gay History – April 27, 1953: President Eisenhower Signs Executive Order Banning Homosexuals From Working For The US Government.

Everyone liked Ike. But Ike hated homosexuals.

On this day April 27, 1953 President Dwight Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10450, banning anyone  identified as threats to national security including those with criminal records, alcoholics, and “sex perverts”–to be excluded or terminated from federal employment.. The Order lists homosexuals as security risks, along with alcoholics and neurotics.

This was one of Eisenhower’s first official duties after being elected.

This Executive Order was tied to the McCarthy era Red Scare, the search for Communists who had supposedly infiltrated American society. The purging of homosexuals and lesbians from the federal government became known as the Lavender Scare, thousands of people were fired from their jobs simply because of their sexual orientation.

The rational was that “perverts” — the word The New York Times freely used as a synonym for homosexuals — were a threat to the security of the country because their immoral lifestyle left them susceptible to blackmail by foreign agents, who would presumably induce them to reveal sensitive government information in exchange for avoiding exposure.

The anti-gay frenzy ignited by the government did far more than just deprive these men and women of jobs; it drove many to suicide and cemented homophobic stereotypes that persisted for decades in the American consciousness

Ironically on the same date April 27, nineteen years later in 1972 testifying before Congress, FBI Director and notorious closet case J. Edgar Hoover assured the House Appropriations Committee that there are no gay activists in the Bureau, saying “We don’t allow any types of activists in the FBI, gay or otherwise. I ask not for average personnel but for those above average in character, education, and personal appearance.”

We must all remain diligent.

If it happened once. It could happen again.

10 thoughts on “Gay History – April 27, 1953: President Eisenhower Signs Executive Order Banning Homosexuals From Working For The US Government.

  1. I barely remember him, but enough to remember some of the things he signed. I didn’t remember this. I can’t believe of all the things, this is one I didn’t remember. However I was very young, and had some other very important things I was fighting. Trust me, when I say important things… I am glad I got away from that type of teaching and situation… I just think there are nor were any good republicans anywhere, those great family values individuals…. I know so many people’s lives they ruined….. I am glad I am here to fight back still…… and had the chance to fight against them long ago.

  2. You’ve got to consider the time. In the early 1950s, the words under God were added to the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. Sitcoms painted a picture of American life devoid of major problems. America had this image of itself as a do-good, God-fearing country, where good citizens went to their house of worship every week. People that were “different” were marginalized and called perverts or commies. That was the patina of American life. Of course, beneath the surface, lurked hard truths that some tried to ignore.

  3. I worked for the federal govt, VA hospital for 21 years. My staff knew I was gay and I never had any problems.
    I kept my professionalism separate from my personal life.

  4. It was not hatred. Because homosexuals were, for the most part, closeted, and did not wish to come out, as they would have been ostracized, they, if they held a sensitive government post, were often subject to blackmail. Eisenhower was President in the 1950s, and did the correct thing at the time. One cannot judge a historic figure by the standards of today but in terms of the standards and context of his times. To do otherwise is to demonstrate ignorance, self-righteousness, and arrogance. Whether Eisenhower personally hated homosexuals or otherwise is simply irrelevant.

    I might add that Abraham Lincoln, the ”great emancipation,” thought that blacks were hopelessly inferior to whites. Initially, he wanted to deport freed slaves to Africa. The so-called ”Emancipation Proclamation” did not free a single slave when it was enacted in 1863, since it applied only to areas in rebellion against the United States. Slowly, Lincoln’s attitude changed as reports of the valiantry of black Union soldiers came to him.

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