Executive Order 10450

Executive Order 10450

To make it clearly understood, in one of his first official acts after taking office, Eisenhower issued Executive Order 10450 and for 64 years, parts of this order remained in place, enforced or not, until President Obama, after being in office for 8 years, repealed it on his last day.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued Executive Order 10450 on April 27, 1953. Effective May 27, 1953. It charged the heads of federal agencies and the Civil Service Commission, supported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), with investigating federal employees to determine whether they posed security risks. It expanded the definitions and conditions used to make such determinations. The order contributed to the ongoing Lavender scare of the mid-1950s, barring thousands of lesbian and gay applicants from government jobs. The order was explicitly repealed in 2017, when President Obama signed Executive Order 13764, the last of his Administration.

The U.S. Supreme Court in Cole v. Young (1956) restricted the application of the executive order. In this case of a food and drug inspector for the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare who had been dismissed for his association with radicals, the Court faulted the executive order for its failure to define “national security” and for other ambiguities. It faulted its application in the case of a position not clearly related to national security. It noted conflicts with statutes like the Veterans’ Preference Act.

In 1975, the U.S. Civil Service Commission ended a ban on gays and lesbians in the federal civil service. In 1977, the State Department lifted a policy barring gays from employment in the Foreign Service. Around the same time, the IRS ended its policy of requiring “homosexual education and charity groups to publicly state that homosexuality is a ‘sickness, disturbance, or diseased pathology'” before obtaining section 501 tax-exempt status.

The order’s language restricting national security access based on sexual orientation was also repealed in 1995 when President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 12968, which stated that “The United States Government does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation in granting access to classified information.” The order’s language concerning employment and sexual orientation was also repealed when Clinton signed Executive Order 13087 in 1998.

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