223. Briefing Memorandum From the Acting Legal Adviser (Marks) to the Acting Under Secretary of State for Management (Conlin)1

Department Policy with Respect to Homosexuals

Shortly before you came, the Department declined to grant a security clearance to a Stanford Law School student who was coming here as an extern because he was a homosexual. The student was an open homosexual; the case received extensive notoriety at Stanford. At one point, the Dean of the Stanford Law School telephoned Warren Christopher about the matter.2 Because the security clearance was not granted, Stanford will no longer permit its students to serve as externs with the Department.

The incident focused attention on the Department’s policy (or lack of policy) in this area and on the need to take a careful look at the question of homosexuality in light of current attitudes, court decisions, the needs of the foreign service, etc.

Ben3 twice convened meetings to initiate a study of Department policy on homosexuality; the first meeting was cancelled because budget hearings intervened, and the second was a victim of Ben’s hepatitis.

The cover story of this week’s TIME magazine4 is apt to focus more attention on this subject, particularly since it cites the foreign service as having officially abandoned discrimination against homosexuals two years ago.

I suggest that you convene the meeting that Ben had planned to convene.5

APPROVE _______6


  1. Source: Department of State, Records of the Executive Secretariat, Information Management Section (S/S–I), 1979, Lot 81D117, Principal Memo File, April–May–June 1979. Unclassified. Copies were sent to John Thomas (A), Barnes, and Karl Ackerman (A/SY).
  2. See Document 217.
  3. Reference is to Ben Read.
  4. Reference is to “Sexes: How Gay is Gay?,” Time, April 23, 1979.
  5. Michael Meyers, the extern denied a security clearance, corresponded with Warren Christopher on August 17, and sent Christopher a paper he wrote entitled “Security Clearances and Homosexuals: At the State Department?” The paper and the correspondence are in the National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Deputy Secretary of State, 1977–1980, Box 20, WC—Official Chron, 1979.
  6. Conlin signed on this line on April 20.