Homosexuals and “other sex perverts” unsuitable for Federal employment

Cover, Employment of Homosexuals

In the 1950 report and resolution Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in Government, a Senate subcommittee charges the Civil Service Commission with stepping up investigations–and dismissals–of alleged “moral perverts” employed by the Federal government, arguing that homosexuals and “other sex perverts” are “generally unsuitable” for employment and “constitute security risks.”

Perverts and homosexuals, the authors argue, “lack emotional stability of normal persons,” incapable of taking on positions of responsibility. Homosexuals furthermore have a “corrosive influence upon his fellow employees,” because they “frequently attempt to entice normal individuals to engage in perverted practices.” Indeed, the presence of “one homosexual can pollute a Government office.”

The threat of the homosexual was not limited to their demoralizing influence.  In the context of a developing national security state in the early Cold War, the homosexual seemed a liability to maintaining government secrecy. The lawmakers believed that a homosexual could be blackmailed into revealing state secrets. These fears were not unfounded; for example, Joseph Alsop, a journalist and closeted homosexual, rebuffed Soviet attempts to blackmail him in 1957. Nevertheless, fears that homosexuals could be so easily manipulated were no doubt based on the assumption that homosexuals display a compromised “moral fiber,” that would make them even more susceptible to subversion.

Charging that agencies have taken a weak stance towards extirpating the homosexuals on federal payroll, the senators criticize government for either taking a “head in the sand” attitude toward the “problem of sex perversion,” or avoiding the problem altogether by fabricating some other reason for dismissal (see Arthur Vandenberg, Jr.).

The senators conclude with an unabashedly discriminatory statement of employment policy:

There is no place in the United States Government for persons who violate the laws or the accepted standards of morality, or who otherwise bring disrepute to the Federal service by infamous or scandalous personal conduct… It is the opinion of this subcommittee that those who engage in acts of homosexuality and other perverted sex activities are unsuitable for employment in the federal government. This conclusion is based upon the fact that persons who indulge in such degraded activity are committing not only illegal and immoral acts, but they also constitute security risks in positions of public trust.

Those responsible for evaluating employees and applicants for Federal jobs should “adopt and maintain a realistic and vigilant attitude toward the problems of sex perverts in the Government” and not “pussyfoot or take half measures” that will allow “known perverts to remain in government.”

The report and resolution is a clear statement of policy–hardly “snippets of legislative history.” This document is among the piling historical evidence of the blatant animus that the federal government has shown towards LGBT Americans for generations.