by Camila Domonoske

On behalf of the U.S. State Department, John Kerry has issued a formal apology for the department's pattern of discrimination against LGBT employees during a period beginning in the 1940s and stretching for decades.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., had asked the secretary of state for such an apology in late November, calling the historical discrimination "un-American and unacceptable."

The Washington Blade reported on Cardin's request in early December, noting at the time that the State Department said it was preparing a response.

The mass purge of gay staffers during the mid-20th century was known as the "Lavender Scare," which coincided with the "Red Scare."

Author Eric Berkowitz, speaking to Terry Gross on Fresh Air in 2015, said the systematic discrimination against gay people in that era has "gotten short shrift in the popular imagination."

At the same time as the persecution of alleged communists, "there was no less energetic a hunt to root out what were called 'perverts' ... from the federal government," he said.

And it started in the State Department, explains David Johnson, the author of The Lavender Scare. He says that in the '40s, the State Department was already systematically firing gay employees.

At the same time as the persecution of alleged communists, "there was no less energetic a hunt to root out what were called 'perverts' ... from the federal government," he said.

Read the rest of the story from NPR here

Photo: JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images

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