Minutes after Donald Trump was sworn in as America's next president, the White House website, whitehouse.gov, was transformed. A few major items immediately disappeared from the site: references to LGBTQ rights and a page addressing climate change, for a start.
On Monday night, another page on a government website joined those in the internet void: a letter on the State Department's webpage that marked an unprecedented moment for LGBTQ Americans—an apology from Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledging decades of outright discrimination from the department against its LGBTQ employees.
As of today, the page no longer exists:
The statement was published on January 9 on state.gov, and said, "In the past – as far back as the 1940s, but continuing for decades – the Department of State was among many public and private employers that discriminated against employees and job applicants on the basis of perceived sexual orientation, forcing some employees to resign or refusing to hire certain applicants in the first place. These actions were wrong then, just as they would be wrong today."
Here's a snapshot of the site from the Internet Archive–which shows the page was still up Monday evening:
A spokesperson for the State Department told Fusion in an email, "As per standard practice, the Secretary’s remarks have been archived," and provided a link to the archive here.
When asked if removing the statement from the State.gov website and having it archived marked a change in the department's stance on this issue, the spokesperson responded, "The statement was archived as per standard practice."
LGBTQ rights groups applauded Kerry's statement. The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, condemned the disappearance of the apology from state.gov.
“Secretary Kerry’s apology to LGBTQ employees and their families who were targeted, harassed, and fired set the right tone for the State Department, even if it couldn’t undo the damage done decades ago," HRC President Chad Griffin told Pink News. "It is outrageous that the new administration would attempt to erase from the record this historic apology for witch hunts that destroyed the lives of innocent Americans. The apology, along with the other important LGBTQ content that has been removed, should immediately be restored, and President Trump should condemn such behaviour at all departments and agencies."