News and Commentary

Biden 1973: Gay Federal Employees ‘Are Security Risks’

On Tuesday, The Washington Free Beacon uncovered a newspaper article from 1973 in which former Vice President Joe Biden (who announced his candidacy for president on Thursday) claimed that homosexuals under government employ were a “security risk.”

The article, from the Morning News, a now-defunct Delaware newspaper, was titled “Gay Activist Gets Biden’s ‘Gut Reaction.'”

The pertinent portion of the piece reads:

Biden also agreed to answer by mail a series of questions of U.S. Civil Service and military job discrimination which Robert Vane, a gay activist, presented him. Vane, a North Star resident, startled Biden with his sudden inquiries and sent at least three persons storming from the room when he identified his cause.

“My gut reaction,” Biden told Vane, “is that they (homosexuals) are security risks but I must admit I haven’t given this much thought … I’ll be darned!”

The Washington Free Beacon attempted to find Vane, but failed to do so, and the North Star Civic Association didn’t get back to them prior to publication regarding the set of questions then-Senator Biden supposedly promised to answer.

LGBT issues, as they pertain to U.S. politics and policy, were in their infancy in the early 1970s. During the 1950s and 1960s, the “Lavender Scare” allegedly led to the termination or forced resignation of thousands of gay federal employees (as well as those suspected of being gay).

According to a lengthy 2016 paper by Judith Adkins of “Prologue,” the National Archives and Records Administration’s official magazine, Joseph McCarthy’s February 9, 1950 speech about the alleged 205 communists working in the State Department was followed approximately a week and a half later by specifics about two individuals who were suspected of being homosexuals.

“Deputy Undersecretary of State John Peurifoy, testifying before a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, revealed that the State Department had ousted 91 homosexual employees as security risks,” she writes.

This set into motion a series of events in which homosexuals were scrutinized by the federal government. A report written after a congressional investigation in 1950, titled “Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in Government,” claimed that homosexuals were a “security risk.”

The report stated in part:

The lack of emotional stability which is found in most sex perverts and the weakness of their moral fiber, makes them susceptible to the blandishments of the foreign espionage agent. It is the experience of intelligence experts that perverts are vulnerable to interrogation by a skilled questioner and they seldom refuse to talk about themselves. Furthermore, most perverts tend to congregate at the same restaurants, night clubs, and bars, which places can be identified with comparative ease in any community, making it possible for a recruiting agent to develop clandestine relationships which can be used for espionage purposes.

As has been previously discussed in this report, the pervert is easy prey to the blackmailer. It follows that if blackmailers can extort money from a homosexual under the threat of disclosure, espionage agents can use the same type of pressure to extort confidential information or other material they might be seeking. . . .It is an accepted fact among intelligence agencies that espionage organizations the world over consider sex perverts who are in possession of or have access to confidential material to be prime targets where pressure can be exerted

… 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.

Biden’s stated positions on LGBT issues have certainly changed since the 1973 interview, and over the last decade they have changed at an accelerated rate.

In May 2012, he said: “Men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don’t see much of a distinction beyond that.”

Biden’s remarks just so happened to coincide with a shift in public opinion. According to an ongoing Gallup survey, by mid-2011, more than half of Americans favored same-sex marriage.

Additionally, Biden launched the “As You Are” campaign in 2018, which shares LGBT stories in an effort to “educate the public about the importance of accepting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth,” reports NBC News.

Biden said of the initiative:

We’ll use our resources to highlight the harms of family rejection — and lift up research, best practices and personal stories to powerfully show the significant value of family acceptance.

Biden is well-known for his off-the-cuff remarks that are later described as gaffes. More broadly, progressives are often forgiven for “evolving” on certain issues. However, the question remains — with his decades of “evolution,” can Biden appeal to a growing but vocal minority in the Democratic Party that demands extreme ideological purity, and who have a crop of candidates who reflect their agenda much better than Biden ever could?