Tag Archives: Joe McCarthy

Gay History: July 2 – McCarthy, Cohn and “Sex Perverts”, Rex Gildo and the IRS

July 2nd.

1939:  Ludwig Alexander Hirtreiter, aka Rex Gildo, German singer of ‘schlagers’, born in Munich.  Hirtreiter aka Gildo  reached the height of his popularity in the 1960’s and 1970’s, selling over 25 million records and also starring in film and television roles.

Gildo died in 1999 aged 63, having spent three days in an artificially-induced coma after attempting suicide by jumping from the window of his apartment building. He was said to have been suffering “psychological problems”. After his death, it was reported that he had been gay and involved in a relationship with Dave Klingeberg, his secretary with whom he lived, for seven years.

1953:  The Los Angeles Herald-Express reports that the state department in California had fired 531 sex perverts and other security risks. The number of homosexuals fired was 425. Note: during the McCarthyist period from 1947 to 1953 more people lost their jobs for being homosexual than for involvement with the Communist party in which McCarthy was aided by the ice cold sleaze queen and deeply closeted homosexual Roy Cohn

1969:  Responding to the fourth and final night of ongoing Stonewall riots on Christopher Street New York police arrived and beat the demonstrators with nightsticks, leaving many many victims bleeding but in the end more then double the amount of police were injured during the riots than LGBT activist.

1970:  A group of American Lutheran leaders issues a statement calling for an end to sodomy laws and the passage of legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation

1974:  In Winnipeg, Manitoba, Derksen Printers refuses to print Understanding Homosexuality, an educational publication by Gays for Equality. Group pickets printing plant.

1975: During a joint meeting of the National Organization of Women, the Austin Women’s Political Caucus and Women’s Equality Action League, the Austin Lesbian Organization is invited to give a presentation on lesbianism.

1985:  The first meeting of Heterosexuals Unafraid of Gays (HUG) is held in Wellington, New Zealand.

1986:  By only a single vote New Zealand’s parliament allows final debate to begin on a proposed law to lower the age of consent for gay sex to 16 and legalize gay sex. The bill eventually passes.

1989:  Employees of the US Internal Revenue Service who were members of the National Treasury Employees Union receive a new contract which included protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation. But to this day it does not appear in internal ethics material.

1994:  Italy’s “First National Demonstration of Gay and Lesbian Pride” takes place in Rome.

 

 

 

 

 

Gay History – March 1950: The Lavender Scare – McCarthy and Cohn Hunt Homosexuals in the Federal Government

Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn

 

The Lavender Scare blew wide open in the nation’s newspapers in late March of 1950 when arch-conservative columnist George Sokolsky, an early admirer of Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) and  Roy Cohn, (pictured above) took to his column to blast the U.S. State Department, once again, for harboring “known Communists” and worse.  HOMOSEXUALS!

Wrote Sokolsky:

When Maximillian Harden, the German journalist, called attention to a similar camarilla in the Kaiser’s court, involving Prince Eulenburg, it shocked and astonished the world. Yet, in this generation, in the United States, a charge that 91 employees of the state department were dismissed for being homosexuals passes with little excitement.

And so the Lavender Scare began.

The Lavender Scare is a rarely talked about but an  important part of our history and the persecution we have endured.  In the 1950’s during the anti-communist campaign known as McCarthyism. Gay men and lesbians were often considered “fellow travelers” of the communists, with McCarthy also charging not only that the government had been infiltrated by homosexuals, and that they posed a threat equally as grave to national security because gay men and lesbians could be blackmailed into revealing state secrets.  The lavender scare began “may be seen as the time when homosexuals became the chief scapegoats of the Cold War because of fear, bigotry and hatred.

The Lavender Scare

In 1950, the same year that Senator Joseph McCarthy claimed 205 communists were working in the State Department.

On April 19, 1950, the Republican National Chairman Guy George Gabrielson said that “sexual perverts who have infiltrated our Government in recent years” were perhaps as “dangerous as the actual Communists”. 

The State Department at first denied that it employed any suspected communists. But under intense questioning from McCarthy’s Republican allies, they did admit that they had fired 91 homosexuals as “security risks.” This seemed to substantiate McCarthy’s otherwise wild charges and increase his popular support. Soon outraged citizens, newspaper editors, and members of Congress were calling for an investigation. In the summer of 1950, a committee of the US Senate investigated “the employment of homosexuals and other sex perverts in the government.” Although they could not uncover a single example of a homosexual American citizen who had betrayed secrets as a result of blackmail, they wrote a highly circulated and influential report that asserted that gay men and lesbians exhibited weak moral character and had a “corrosive influence” on their fellow employees. “One homosexual can pollute a government office,” the Senate report concluded. Based on little evidence, the attacks represented a way for Republicans, the minority party at the time, to attack the Democrats and the New Deal agencies they had created as centers of immorality.

McCarthy then hired Roy Cohn –later exposed as being a homosexual himself and who died of AIDS in 1986,  as chief counsel of his Congressional subcommittee. Together, McCarthy and Cohn were responsible for the firing of scores of gay men and women from government employment and strong-armed many opponents into silence using rumors of their homosexuality. In 1953, during the final months of the Truman administration, the State Department reported that it had fired 425 employees for allegations of homosexuality.

McCarthy often used accusations of homosexuality as a smear tactic in his anti-communist crusade, often combining the Second Red Scare with the Lavender Scare. On one occasion, he went so far as to announce to reporters, “If you want to be against McCarthy, boys, you’ve got to be either a Communist or a cocksucker.” Some historians have argued that, in linking communism and homosexuality and psychological imbalance, McCarthy was employing guilt-by-association if evidence for communist activity was lacking.

On April 27th, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower that year declared homosexuals a threat to national security and ordered the immediate firing of every gay man and lesbian working for the U.S. government using an Executive Order which would stay in effect until  President Clinton on May 28, 1998  finally signed Executive Order 13087 banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in federal hiring practices and in the granting of security clearances.

In January 2017, the State Department formally apologized.

The Lavender Scare ended many gay men and women’s promising careers, ruined lives, and pushed many to suicide. It is a darker side of our history that is rarely talked about and one that we should never forget to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Justice Department Ordered to Release 1950’s Gay ‘Purge’ Lavender Scare Documents

 

 

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled last week that the Justice Department must search for and release historical records pertaining to a “purge” of gay and lesbian federal employees by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under J. Edgar Hoover.

The documents are related to President Dwight Eisenhower’s Executive Order 10450, which gave the heads of federal agencies the power to investigate and dismiss government workers if they posed a national security risk.

The lawsuit’s plaintiff, along with LGBT historians, however, claim the actual purpose of the program was to allow the Hoover-led FBI legal authority to fire thousands of gay and lesbian employees across the federal government.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth in Friday’s ruling rejected arguments by the FBI that the search would produce a burdensome number of documents, and he was skeptical of claims that searches relating to Chief Justice Warren Burger — an assistant attorney general at the time who was tasked with enforcing EO 10450 — turned up no relevant results.

“The Government states that there is not a single responsive document amongst the results,” Lamberth wrote in the ruling. “Respectfully, this strains credulity.”

Lillian Faderman, an LGBT historian and author of “The Gay Revolution,” called the district court’s ruling “very significant,” but she noted Eisenhower’s executive order wasn’t the beginning of the U.S. government’s weeding out of gay employees.

“Truman in 1947 had signed [Executive Order 9835, known as the “Loyalty Order”], and that gave enough ammunition to the State Department to begin witch hunting homosexuals,” she said. “Throughout the early 1950s there were firings, but [Eisenhower’s order] gave even more ammunition.”

Faderman said the purge officially continued until 1975, when the U.S. Civil Service Commission (the government entity that actually did the firing) ended it

“It’s important to the preservation of LGBT American history,” said Lisa Linsky a partner at McDermott Will & Emery, the law firm that has been working pro bono with the Mattachine Society for the past five years to get these documents released, “The files are part of a broader story. It’s also important that our allies and other fellow citizens understand what the government did so we could do our best to avoid repeating history.”

“Given the current environment, we need to do everything that we can to identify these historic documents, preserve them and make sure that the public is aware of the story of the government animus and discrimination toward LGBT people,” she explained, “because we’re at a time when the government — this particular administration — is not supportive of the LGBT community and preserving the civil rights that we have obtained.”