November 23, 2020

Castro, Cicilline Introduce the LOVE Act to Protect LGBTQ Diplomats from Discrimination

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (D, TX-20), Vice Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Chairman of its Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, and Congressman David Cicilline (D, RI-1) introduced the Lavender Offense Victim Exoneration (LOVE) Act of 2020. The LOVE Act the recognizes and corrects the injustice perpetrated against approximately 1,000 people who were fired from the State Department due to their sexual orientation during the Lavender Scare of the 1950’s and beyond.  The LOVE Act also seeks to protect today’s State Department LGBTQ employees from discrimination.

“While many people are familiar with the Red Scare of the 1950’s, history has barely mentioned the Lavender Scare persecution of LGBTQ employees in the State Department that harmed far more people.  Even today, LGBTQ employees at the State Department continue to face significant challenges when serving our nation overseas,” said Congressman Castro.  “It is long past time that Congress acknowledge this injustice, and for the State Department to reconcile its discriminatory past and address the current challenges faced by LGBTQ employees and their families.  No matter who they love or who they are, our diplomats deserve dignity and respect.”

“For too long, LGBTQ individuals were persecuted and wrongfully terminated by our own government for no good reason," Congressman Cicilline said. "It’s long past time the government acknowledged this horrific practice, apologize to those who were harmed and commit to full equality for all Americans. This bill inches us that closer to that goal."


The LOVE Act requires the State Department to set up an independent commission to review the cases of individuals who were fired since the 1950’s as a result of their sexual orientation, receive testimony, and correct employment records.  The bill would also issue an apology on behalf of Congress for its role in perpetuating these policies. For today’s LGBTQ employees, the LOVE Act requires the State Department to report on its action to ensure foreign countries recognize and accredit the spouses of same-sex diplomats serving overseas as well as address the failure of those countries that do not.  The bill requires the establishment of an Advancement Board to address issues faced by LGBTQ diplomats and their families.

The LOVE Act has been endorsed by the Council for Global Equality, Out in National Security, and Foreign Policy for America. In addition to Reps. Castro and Cicilline, the LOVE Act is co-sponsored by Reps. James McGovern, Alan Lowenthal, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Deb Haaland, Andre Carson, and Brad Sherman.

You can view the full legislative text here.

Quotes from supporters:

“It is long past time to reckon with a disgraceful legacy of discrimination against LGBTI diplomats in our country’s foreign and civil service.  The LOVE Act begins to make amends for the careers that were ruined and the livelihoods that were destroyed by documenting our shameful history,” said Mark Bromley, Chair of the Council for Global Equality.“It also creates accountability mechanisms at the State Department to ensure equal opportunities for future LGBTI diplomats to serve our country in every region of the world.  The distinguished service of LGBTI diplomats in the years to come is likely to be the far most meaningful tribute to those who suffered quietly over so many previous years.”

“The Love Act is a necessary step in righting the wrongs of the past and setting the State Department on a better course for a future that welcomes the talents and perspectives of LGBTI+ Americans,” said Lucas Schleusener, Co-Founder and President of Out in National Security. “We are grateful for the work of GLIFAA, LGBTI+ activists, civil society groups that have brought this legislation about, and the victims of the gay purges who work hard to hold their government accountable.”