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Gay Pride Celebration at CIA Signals Strides Toward Equality

This week, openly gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) hosted a gay pride celebration at the CIA’s Langley headquarters. Frank addressed approximately 100 intelligence workers and busloads of openly gay National Security Agency employees saying that the Gay and Lesbian Pride Month at the CIA is a “sign of real progress.”

The agency has a long history of homophobia and discrimination against openly gay and lesbian intelligence officers. During the 1950’s, the State Department interrogated numerous agents because of their sexual orientation. In 1960, two National Security Agency analysts defected to Moscow after suspicions that they were gay, causing major scandal in the NSA. But in 1995, President Clinton signed an executive order overturning a directive from the Eisenhower administration that classified homosexuality as a “sexual perversion.” Clinton’s order prohibited the denial of security clearances “solely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the employee.” Shortly after Clinton signed the order, gay and lesbian employees of the CIA began organizing, creating the Agency Network of Gay and Lesbian Employees.

Also in LGBT rights news today, the three largest United States automakers announced today that they will extend same sex partner benefits to their employees. Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors announced the change in policy today, indicating that the move was an effort to remain competitive with other Fortune 500 companies. New York-based IBM and Citigroup are the two largest companies offering same sex partner benefits to date.

Sources:

Washington Post - June 9, 2000 and New York Times