Apparently the Central Intelligence Agency is looking for a new style of agent. According to a National Public Radio report, as “part of the CIA's efforts to diversify its workforce, the spy agency is reaching out to a group that once was unable to get security clearance — lesbians and gay men.”
In late November the CIA partnered with Florida's Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce for an event to network with homosexuals who may be interested in working for the agency. “This is the first time we've done a networking event of this type with any of the gay and lesbian chamber of commerces in the United States,” said Michael Barber, the CIA's LGBT Community Outreach and Liaison program manager. Barber, who made it clear that he is “straight,” emphasized that his agency is not as picky as it once was about the sexual orientation of its recruits, and now welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and even transgender (LGBT) individuals for service in the spy agency.
“For many years, the CIA and other federal agencies routinely denied security clearances to gay men and women,” reported NPR, “until President Clinton signed an executive order ending the practice in 1995. Now, Barber says, the CIA even has a program for gay couples. 'We actually have LGBT employees serving overseas with their partners,' Barber said to the few dozen gathered at the networking event. 'So you can do it.'”
During the 1950s and '60s, hundreds of homosexuals were purged from the CIA ranks — for obvious security reasons. But as long ago as the late 1980s a select few were allowed to stay on, pioneering the way for today's wide-open compromise. Tracey Ballard, a CIA technical intelligence officer who spoke at the Miami-Dade LGBT recruiting event, recalled how she “came out” to her superiors in 1989, “knowing that the admission could cost her security clearance and her job,” reported NPR.
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