Homosexuality has been a controversial topic for many different reasons since the birth of established religion. Although, common in the ancient world, homosexuality and its acceptance radically dropped following the rise of Christianity. Therefore, by the time Eisenhower was President his views, as where most of the country, were negative to such sexual deviancies. It was believed that homosexuality was a condition that had to be treated by psychologies and furthermore that it was a national security threat to the nation because of how susceptible they were to be blackmailed. The backdrop of these events was the 1950’s. A time of the ideal perfect family with 2.5 kids. Where the man was the breadwinner and the woman were to state home and take care of the children. In this extremely conservative family centric society is where this homosexuality trials and hunt took place inside the Federal Government. Believing that homosexuality was a threat to national security, Eisenhower through executive order 10450 sought to banish all gay man and woman from serving in the Federal government, through the use of interrogations, polygraphs and other dubious means.
The threat of communism suddenly enveloped the whole of the United States soon after the war. There was a mass hysteria that there were people that were working to undermine U.S. interest and way of life. It was believed that communism wanted to destroy the core of American values, which at the time meant the family core. 1950’s was a time were everything was done by tradition. This traditional way of living didn’t have space for homosexual behavior. The fears of communism spreading offer the perfect cover for Eisenhower’s clean the house policies. He believed that homosexuals were persons of low moral character. That homosexuality was an unforgivable lack of moral character, and therefore it opens the individuals to being blackmailed by agents of communism. It was believed at the time that their homosexual nature will make them reveal secrets under duress for fear of not being outed. Therefore, all Federal jobs had to be homosexual free for the security of the nation. This purge, nonetheless was based solely on sexual orientation and had little to nothing to do with the spread of communism. The belief in this was best summarized the following way: These perverts will frequently attempt to entice individuals to engage in perverted practices One homosexual can pollute a Government office. Homosexuality of course was illegal at the time, making it easier for Eisenhower to pass his national security reforms. The rationality at the time was that a person could be loyal to the country yet still posed a security risk. The reason to fire said individuals can be best summarized by General, Herbert Brownell Jr, when he stated: Employees could be a security risk and still not be disloyal or have any traitorous thoughts, but it may be their personal habits are such that they might be subject to blackmail by people who seek to destroy the safety of our country.
In order to put in practice Eisenhower’s desire for cleaning house there were special forces that were set up to deal with complaints, or suspicious of someone being a homosexual. Gestapo like practices were implemented as well, as thousands of mails where being opened to make sure there was no signs of homosexual behavior. The mission was to: eliminate all types of sex perverts from the rolls of the department. A unit was created called: The Miscellaneous M Unit This unit was involved both on interrogation where there was a good cop bad cop style of asking the questions and polygraph testing. If a person was convicted or thought of being sexually perverted, they could take a polygraph test to determine their innocence. After a member was accused of homosexuality there were only two outcomes, either he or she was cleared of all charges, or they were asked to resign. Sadly, most investigations ended in confessions and therefore firings. Homosexuality was perceived as a such a big threat that even after people were fired from the Federal Government they were blacklisted from international organizations as well. The main reason why they were perceived as such a huge threat to a family life was because it was believed to be sinful, perverted, the boring 50’s were a time where America went back to Elizabethan family values. Tradition stated that a man was to marry a woman and then procreate and have children. The man will become the breadwinner and the woman will be the one in charge of the house. Tradition was so entrenched at the time that two kids was consider the perfect American family. In a world with so many uncertainties due to the Cold War, Americans found refuge in embracing old family values. Homosexuality was an aberration to this family values. In their minds, homosexuality seeks to corrupt and destroy the traditions they held so dearly, and therefore was in turn a national security problem.
Homosexuality rights have come a long way since the days of the Eisenhower’s administration. Not only is homosexuality not illegal anymore, but they even have the right to marry now a day. It is important to remember events like this so that this kind of systematic discrimination doesn’t happened again. In an ever-changing world with new threats and alarming events it’s important to make sure that basic human rights are always upheld. The Cold War in a lot of ways brought the worst of some people back in the 50’s. It’s important to make sure as a nation that this never happens again.
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