Tag Archives: Frank Kameny

Gay History – July 4, 1965: Philadelphia’s Independence Hall Annual Reminder Protest

Annual Reminder 2On July 4th. 1965, gay rights activists gathered outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia, carrying picket signs and demanding legislation that would codify the rights of homosexuals as a minority group. Referencing the Constitution’s inalienable right to the “Pursuit of Happiness” and its foundational belief that “all men are created equal,” the activists called for legislative changes that would improve the lives of American homosexuals.  (Which at that time included the lesbian, trans and bi community.  Compartmentalization and isolation was not part of the movement yet and all groups were together as one and fought as such) 

New York City gay activist Craig Rodwell conceived of the event following the April 17, 1965 picket at the White House led by Frank Kameny.  Rodwell along with  members of the New York City and Washington, D.C. chapters of the Mattachine Society, Philadelphia’s Janus Society and the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis would get together and picket in front of Liberty Hall on July 4th.  

The protest would be called “Reminder Day” and would continue for the next five years in a row

The name of the event was selected to remind the American people that a substantial number of American citizens were denied the rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” enumerated in the United States Declaration of Independence.

Thirty-nine people attended the first picket, including veteran activists Frank Kameny, Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin.  As with the Washington, D.C. picket Kameny insisted on a strict dress code for participants, including jackets and ties for the men and dresses for the women. Kameny’s goal was to represent homosexuals as “presentable and ’employable'”.  Picketers carried signs with such slogans as “HOMOSEXUAL BILL OF RIGHTS” and “15 MILLION HOMOSEXUAL AMERICANS ASK FOR EQUALITY, OPPORTUNITY, DIGNITY”.

The picket ran from 3:30-5:00 PM. and press coverage was sparse, although Confidential magazine ran a large feature about the Reminder and other gay pickets in its October 1965 issue under the headline “Homos On The March”.

The annual Reminder continued through July 4, 1969.  The final Annual Reminder took place less than a week after the June 28th. Stonewall riots,

At the last Annual Reminder Rodwell received several telephone calls threatening him and the other New York participant’s lives, but he was able to arrange for police protection for the chartered bus all the way to Philadelphia. About 45 people participated, including the deputy mayor of Philadelphia and his wife. The dress code and behavior code was still in effect at the Reminder, but two women from the New York contingent broke from the single-file picket line and held hands. When Frank Kameny tried to break them apart, Rodwell furiously denounced him to onlooking members of the press.

The annual Reminders were commemorated in 2005 by the placement of a Pennsylvania state historical marker by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission at 6th and Chestnut Streets where it is viewed by thousands of visitors daily.

In 2015 the city of Philadelphia celebrated the 50th. Anniversary of the reminders. Unfortunately. the event did not draw the crowds it had hoped and the city itself tried to re-write LGBT history by wrongly claiming that it was the “birthplace of the LGBT rights movement.”  The organizers dropped that false claim before the event after much pressure from this website and other LGBT historians.

Congressional Democrats Push for US Apology To “Hundreds Of Thousands” Fired LGBT Federal Workers

Congressional Democrats Push for US Apology To “Hundreds Of Thousands” Fired LGBT Federal Workers

Vis NBC News reports:

LGBT civil servants and service members were systematically fired or forced to resign due to their sexual orientation or gender identity over the past seven decades, and a proposed bill is seeking to have the federal government issue an official apology acknowledging its past discriminatory policies.

The bill, introduced Thursday by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., says the federal government “discriminated against and terminated hundreds of thousands” of LGBTQ people who served in the armed forces, the foreign service and the federal civil service for decades, “causing untold harm to those individuals professionally, financially, socially, and medically, among other harms.”

Kaine and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., the country’s first openly gay U.S. senator, led the introduction of the resolution. The document is co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), among others.

Learn more about LGBT federal worker persecution:

Gay History – April 17, 1965: Frank Kameny Leads The First Gay & Lesbian Protest At The White House

Gay History – March 1950: The Lavender Scare – McCarthy and Cohn Hunt Homosexuals in the Federal Government

Justice Department Ordered to Release 1950’s Gay ‘Purge’ Lavender Scare Documents

LEARN YOUR HISTORY! – April 27, 1953: President Eisenhower Signs Executive Order Banning Homosexuals From Working for the Federal Government

Gay History – April 17, 1965: Frank Kameny Leads The First Gay & Lesbian Protest At The White House

On April 17th, 1965 Dr. Frank Kameny, along with gay rights pioneer Jack Nichols, who co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, DC  bravely led the first “homosexual rights” protest at the White House at a time in history when being gay and lesbian was viewed as an abomination in this country.

The Mattachine Society fought for the equal treatment of gay employees in the federal government, the repeal of sodomy laws, and the removal of homosexuality as a mental disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s manual of mental disorders..

Ten MSW members along with members of the Daughters of Bilitis picketed in front of the White House against Cuban and the US governments repression of homosexuals.

The group also included:  Gail Johnson,  Gene Kleeberg, Judith Kuch, Paul Kuntzler, Perrin Shaffer, Jon Swanson, Otto Ulrich, Lilli Vincenz (editor of MSW’s quarterly).

Of the protest, Jack Nichols wrote “Never before had gay people as an organized group paraded openly for our rights.”

Nichols recalls:

The picket took place during mid-afternoon. It was the Saturday before Easter, and tourists walked the downtown streets. Lige [Clarke], driving the convertible, took me to the White House curb and helped me unload signs. Then he drove off to work the afternoon shift at the Pentagon. Gail arrived at the site on the back seat of Ray’s motorcycle.It was agreed I should lead the picket line. The reason for this was that I was tall and an all-American sort. Also, I suppose, because I’d conceived the event. Frank Kameny marched behind me and Lilli Vincenz behind him …

As we marched, I looked about at our well-dressed little band. Kameny had insisted that we seven men must wear suits and ties, and the women, dresses and heels. New Yorkers later complained that we Washingtonians looked like a convention of undertakers, but given the temper of the times, Kameny’s insistence was apropos. “If you’re asking for equal employment rights,” he intoned, “look employable!” In the staid nation’s capital, dressing for the occasion was, in spite of New York critics, proper.

We paraded in a small circle. Behind lampposts stood unknown persons photographing us. Were they government agents? Perrin and Otto wore sunglasses so absolute identification would be difficult should they fall prey to security investigations. We walked for an hour that passed, as I’d predicted, without incident. A few tourists gawked and there were one or two snickers, more from confusion than from prejudice.

We’d hoped for more publicity than we got. Only The Afro-American carried a small item about what we’d done. But we’d done it, and that was what mattered. We’d stood up against the power structure, putting our bodies on the line. Nothing had happened except that we’d been galvanized, and, to a certain extent, immunized against fear.”

The Mattachine Society protest was not welcomed by the mainstream gay movement of the time.  The more conservative leaders of the gay movement felt picketing would draw adverse publicity and even greater hostility. (Which sounds very familiar to what we hear today from some LGBT rights groups.)

The Mattachine Society’s protest of the White House, along with the Stonewall Riots are among two of the most significant events in LGBT History. But sadly as we look at the pictures and read the slogans on the picket signs of our LGBT activist forefathers I realize many of the slogans on these signs could still be carried in protest today.

In 2009 I wrote an article for Cincinnati CityBeat  the Queen City’s alternative newspaper called Reason To Rally where I offered an explanation of why I believe the momentum of our fight for equality has stalled to a snail’s pace

Since then, (the Stonewall riots) the cause for Equality has undertaken many different forms.

An angry queer in a T-shirt and jeans might have symbolized the gay activism of the 1970s, but the AIDS epidemic of the ’80s caused a significant change in approach.

By the end of the 90’s gay advocacy became symbolized by well groomed and overpaid white people sitting on boards, issuing press releases, asking for contributions and hosting fabulous galas instead of multitudes taking to the streets and demanding our rights

We now donate instead of protest. We sign countless petitions and then sit behind our computers and bitch and moan about our oppression instead of doing something about it ourselves.

Our cause has been splintered, fragmented and hijacked into piecemeal specific issues such as gay marriage, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act instead of what we should be doing: standing together as one and fighting for and demanding federal recognition and protections in toto

Now with the push of “religious liberty” laws by those who hate us to roll back the rights we have fought so hard for we must  stand together, side-by-side and fight the hatred and bigotry that we deal with everyday and let them know that we’ll no longer accept being treated as second-class citizens and allow them spread lies and propaganda about us and our lives.

Too many years have passed and too many of our friends have left us without knowing what true equality is.

We must ALL stand up and start fighting again.

We must not only fight  for ourselves and those in out community but also for the memory of those who bravely began this fight and are no longer with us and left this world without achieving equality.

We must achieve that goal for them, for us, and those who will come after.

This is still our time.  This is still our fight.

Gay History – December 20, 1957: Frank Kameny Fired from Government Job For Being Gay.

Today In Gay History - December 20, 1957: Frank Kameny Fired From Government Job For Being Gay And A Gay Civil Rights Hero Is Born

In 1957, Frank Kameny was a Harvard educated, WWII veteran working for the Army Map Service until the Government found out he was gay and fired him which started the events that would make Kameny one of the greatest gay activist heroes of our time.

Kameny described the event in Making History

When I was on assignment in Hawaii in November or December of 1957, I got a call from my supervisor in Washington, D.C., to come back at once. I told him that whatever the problem, it could wait a few days, and I returned to Washington at the end of the week. As soon as I got back, I was called in by some two-bit Civil Service Commission investigator and told, “We have information that leads us to believe that you are a homosexual. Do you have any comment?” I said, “What’s the information?” They answered, “We can’t tell you.” I said, well, then I can’t give you an answer. You don’t deserve an answer. and in any case, this is none of your business.” I was not open about being gay at that time — no one was, not in 1957. But I was certainly leading a social life. I went to the gay bars many, many evenings. I’ve never been a covert kind of a person, and I wasn’t about to be one simply because I was working for the government. I’ve never been one to function on the basis that Big Brother may be looking over my shoulder.

So they called me in, and ultimately it resulted in my termination. They did it the way the government does anything: They issued a letter. They said they were dismissing me for homosexuality. I was in shock.

Keep in mind I had been training all of my life for a scientific career, for this kind of occupation. I was not at all familiar with the job market. When I was thrown out, I had nowhere to go. Perhaps if this had happened five or ten years later, I would have had a professional reputation to fall back on, but in this case I didn’t. For a long time I applied for jobs in astronomy, but there was nothing. Ultimately, in 1959, I got a job doing something in physics. My bachelor’s degree is in physics, in the area of optics.

But meanwhile, I had decided that my dismissal amounted to a declaration of war against me by my government. First, I don’t grant me government the right to declare war on me. And second, I tend not to lose my wars.

And so the battle began.

Kameny went on to co-found the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., which in 1963 launched a long campaign to overturn the federal employment ban on gay people and to overturn the district’s sodomy law.

In April of 1965, Kameny organized the first picket line in front of the White House in support of gay rights and was also an instrumental player in the fight to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders. In 1971, he became the first openly gay candidate for the U.S. Congress when he ran for D.C’s non-voting Congressional delegate. In 1975, the U.S. Civil Service Commission notified him that they had changed their policies and were now allowing gay people to work in federal jobs and  in 2009, the U.S. government officially repudiated Kameny’s firing when John Berry, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management who delivered a formal apology during a special OPM ceremony in his honor.

Upon receiving the apology, Kameny tearfully replied, “Apology accepted.”

Frank Kameny passed away in 2011 at the age of 86 in Washington, D.C.

Gay History Month - October 11th: The Life and Death of Heroic Gay Rights Activist Frank Kameny (May 21, 1925 – October 11, 2011)

Gay History – October 11: The Life and Death of Heroic Gay Rights Activist Frank Kameny (May 21, 1925 – October 11, 2011)

Frank Kameny was one of the most significant figures and iconic figures in the American gay rights movement.

 In 1957, Frank Kameny was dismissed from his position as an astronomer in the Army Map Service in Washington, D.C. because of his homosexuality leading him to begin “a Herculean struggle with the American establishment that would transform the gay rights movement” and “spearhead a new period of homosexual rights movement of the early 1960’s.

Kameny appealed his firing through the judicial system, losing twice before seeking review from the United States Supreme Court, which turned down his petition for certiorari.  After devoting himself to activism, Kameny never held a paid job again and was supported by friends and family for the rest of his life. Despite his outspoken activism, he rarely discussed his personal life and never had any long-term relationships with other men, stating merely that he had no time for them.

 In August, 1961 Kameny and Jack Nichols co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington,[an organization that pressed aggressively for gay and lesbian civil rights. The goals of the Mattachine Society were “to unify, to educate, and to lead.”

Kameny and the Mattachine worked diligently for fair and equal treatment of gay employees in the federal government by fighting security clearance denials, employment restrictions and dismissals, and working with other groups to press for equality for gay citizens.

In 1963, Kameny also launched a campaign to overturn D.C. sodomy laws; he personally drafted a bill finally passed in 1993. He also worked to remove the classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder from the American Psychiatric Association’s manual of mental disorders.

Kameny launched the first organized public protests by gays and lesbians with a picket line at the White House on April 17, 1965 and  expanded the picketing to the Pentagon, the U.S. Civil Service Commission, and to Philadelphia’s Independence Hall for what became known as the Annual Reminder for gay rights.

In 1971, Kameny became the first openly gay candidate for the United States Congress when he ran in the District of Columbia’s first election for a non-voting Congressional delegate. Following his defeat by Democrat Walter E. Fauntroy, Kameny and his campaign organization created the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of Washington, D.C., an organization which continues to lobby government and press the case for equal rights. 

Kameny realized that the battle had to be fought on more than one front; that the negative images of homosexuals, which had even permeated the self-identity of gay and lesbian people themselves, also had to be challenged. In 1966, he coined the slogan, “Gay is Good.” Then in 1971, he demanded microphone time at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association where he challenged their speculative theories as being entirely unscientific and harmful to the psychological well-being of millions

He described the day – December 15, 1973, when the American Psychological Association finally removed homosexuality from its manual of mental disorders – as the day “we were cured en masse by the psychiatrists.”

Kameny suffered from heart disease in his last years, but maintained a full schedule of public appearances, his last being a speech to an LGBT group in Washington DC on September 30, 2011.

In 1975, he was appointed a Commissioner of the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, thereby becoming the first gay municipal appointee.

Frank Kameny was found dead in his Washington home of a heart attack on October 11th, 2011 National Coming Out Day.

Frank Kameny was and always will be one of the greatest gay american activists and heros that our movement will ever have.  And many today would be well served to use him as a role model in our fight for equality.

Frank Kameny young

The Bizarre Story Behind Gay Rights Hero Frank Kameny’s Headstone and Heir Timothy Lamont Clark

Kameny grave

 

Yesterday a newly installed memorial headstone for gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny  was installed as part of the annual LGBT Veterans Day ceremony sponsored by the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community that is held each year at Congressional Cemetery.

The Kameny headstone along with a footstone bearing the slogan, “Gay is Good,” which Kameny coined in 1968, have been placed at a cemetery plot just behind the Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich grave. The plot was purchased by the LGBT charitable group Helping Our Brothers and Sisters because of the Kameny estates lacking funds four years ago after the death of the gay rights legend

This comes after years of fighting between the Kamney family, friends, and his legal heir  Timothy Clark, a man of dubious reputation who has held the remains of Frank Kameny, one of the greatest gay activists hostage and  interned  in a storeroom of a Washington, D.C. cemetery over a three years after his death. Clark would  not allow the interment of the ashes to take place until HOBS signs over ownership of the cemetery plot to the estate.

But that never happened and while Clark at one time agreed to allowing half of Kameny’s ashes to be interned at the memorial,  in the end Timothy Clark broke his word and decided to inter all the ashes at an undisclosed location and asking the community to respect “his wishes and his privacy”.

No.

 I just can’t do that because this is not Clark’s first disruption of sharing Kameny’s legacy.  Clark filed separate lawsuits against four of Kameny’s longtime friends and fellow activists, charging that they “wrongfully” removed property from Kameny’s house shortly after his death last October.  (The suits were later dropped) These charges were brought against the same men who helped Kameny financially to pay his bills and keep his house in the last years of his life as he was destitute.  While Clark contributed nothing to help

Clark had even gone as far as to have Kameny’s nationally recognized “Gay is Good” slogan trademarked as to make money off it.

Clark, and his lawyer Glen Ackerman recently ordered D.C. gay activist Christopher Dyer to stop using Kameny’s nationally recognized “Gay is Good” slogan as part of the name of an LGBT rights website that Dyer launched on and demanded its removal even though Dyer explained to the estate that he would not be using the “Gay is Good” phrase for commercial profit and gain that made no difference.

“The executor of the estate has not made a decision regarding how to best utilize the trademark,” Ackerman replied in an email to Dyer. “As such, it is imperative that you cease using the phrase immediately. It is not relevant that you are not using the phrase for commercial profit or gain. The estate will enforce its trademark rights.”

Replied Dyer, the former head of the city’s Office of GLBT Affairs, “Ok. I will cease from this point forward… On a personal note, I am frankly disgusted that the estate took this action. It wasn’t the intent of Frank to have this phrase trademarked.”

Dwyer who used the phrase to make “Gay is Good, Make LGBT Great” for a newly created Facebook page to serve as “a page that highlights individuals who are doing work to make the lives of LGBT people great.”

Ackerman told the Washington Blade (and it must be noted that Mr. Ackerman is also The Washington Blade’s attorney) that the estate declares in its application for the trademark that the objective of the trademark is to ensure that the slogan is always used as intended by Kameny – to promote LGBT equality in a dignified and respectful manner but also added “This slogan that Frank Kameny coined in 1968 is his intellectual property,” Ackerman said. “Frank owns it. It is historical. We are protecting it so that it will always remain connected to Frank, not Christopher Dyer, not other people, but to Frank.”

This is just some in a long line of incidents that have occurred between Kameny’s executor Timothy Lamont Clark and the gay community since Franks passing. And  while we finally have a memorial to one the greatest gay rights leader ever we will never know, the whereabouts of his ashes lay will not be because of pettiness and greed.

To read more on this subject:

Click HEREHERE  and HERE

 

 

 

Famed Gay Activist Frank Kameny To Be Into The Department of Labor Hall Of Honor – #ThankFrank

 

Frank Kameny young

 

Via press release from the US Department of Labor:

Frank Kameny, who for decades fought to end discrimination in the federal workplace, will be honored by the U.S. Department of Labor in June with an induction to its Hall of Honor. Kameny’s legacy as a civil rights leader has made a monumental difference in improving the lives of all workers all across America.

A World War II veteran and Harvard-educated doctor of astronomy with the U.S. Army Map Service, Kameny was discharged and barred from federal government employment in 1958 after U.S. Civil Service Commission investigators asked if he was a homosexual.

Kameny fought the injustice, eventually taking his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied his petition in 1961. The setback led him to become a co-founder of the first gay rights organization in Washington, D.C., and began his tireless fight to force the nation’s largest employer — the federal government — to end discrimination in its employment practices based on sexual orientation.

“Frank Kameny was a groundbreaking leader in the LGBT civil rights movement. He fought tirelessly to live out his truth and to end workplace discrimination,” said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “At the Department of Labor we work every day to carry on his legacy and ensure that all workers, no matter who they are or who they love, have equal access to opportunity.”

His activism led to the first gay demonstration for equal rights at the White House in 1965. Kameny later coined the slogan, “Gay is Good,” to combat negative stereotypes of gay and lesbian people and, in 1971, became the first openly gay candidate for Congress. That year, he also publicly challenged the scientific validity of the American Psychiatric Association’s theories on homosexuality as a mental disorder at its national meeting.

Founder of the Gay Activist Alliance (now the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance), Kameny and his fellow organizers campaigned relentlessly. Slowly, decisions in federal courts helped foster change. In 1975, almost two decades after he was fired by the Army, the Civil Service Commission announced it would no longer exclude homosexuals from government employment. Twenty years later, President Bill Clinton signed an executive order to allow lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees to hold security clearances and high government positions.

Franklin Edward Kameny died in 2011 at age 86.

Other Hall Of Honor inductees include Ted Kennedy, Bayard Rustin, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, and the 9/11 Rescue Workers. Kameny’s ceremony will take place on June 23rd and the Labor Department suggests the Twitter hashtag #ThankFrank.

#ThankFrank  A truer hashtag has never been written.

DISGUSTING – Frank Kameny’s Estate Trademarks “Gay Is Good”, Stops LGBT Publics General Use

In a move that would make late great gay activist Frank Kameny roll over in his grave, if he actually had one since it is now a year after his death and his ashes have still have not been buried because fights and lawsuits between Kameny’s estate handler and Washington D.C. gay insiders. Timothy Lamont Clark, the Personal Representative of the Estate of Dr. Franklin E. Kameny,  has had Kameny’s nationally recognized “Gay is Good” slogan trademarked.

Clark, and his lawyer Glen Ackerman recently ordered D.C. gay activist Christopher Dyer to stop using Kameny’s nationally recognized “Gay is Good” slogan as part of the name of an LGBT rights website that Dyer launched on Oct. 11th and demanded its removal.  And even though Dyer explained to the estate that he would not be using the “Gay is Good” phrase for commercial profit and gain that made no difference.

“The executor of the estate has not made a decision regarding how to best utilize the trademark,” Ackerman replied in an email to Dyer. “As such, it is imperative that you cease using the phrase immediately. It is not relevant that you are not using the phrase for commercial profit or gain. The estate will enforce its trademark rights.”

Replied Dyer, the former head of the city’s Office of GLBT Affairs, “Ok. I will cease from this point forward… On a personal note, I am frankly disgusted that the estate took this action. It wasn’t the intent of Frank to have this phrase trademarked.”

Dwyer who used the phrase to make “Gay is Good, Make LGBT Great” for a newly created Facebook page to serve as “a page that highlights individuals who are doing work to make the lives of LGBT people great.”

But Ackerman told the Washington Blade (and it must be noted that Mr. Ackerman is also The Washington Blades attorney) that the estate declares in its application for the trademark that the objective of the trademark is to ensure that the slogan is always used as intended by Kameny – to promote LGBT equality in a dignified and respectful manner but also added “This slogan that Frank Kameny coined in 1968 is his intellectual property,” Ackerman said. “Frank owns it. It is historical. We are protecting it so that it will always remain connected to Frank, not Christopher Dyer, not other people, but to Frank.”

Which also means that wanting to use “Gay is Good” seeks having to ask permission and  possibly paying the estate to use it.

This is just the latest incident of the disgusting greed and pettiness that has occurred between Franks executor Timothy Lamont Clark, his lawyer Ackerman and the Washington, D,C. gay community over Kameny’s legacy and also his remains.

Clark filed separate lawsuits against four of Kameny’s longtime friends and fellow activists, charging that they “wrongfully” removed property from Kameny’s house shortly after his death last October.  (The suits were later dropped) These are the same men who helped Kameny financially to pay bills and keep his house in the last years of his life as he was destitute.  While Clark contributed little to no help.

But the most upsetting thing is that the remains of Frank Kameny, one of the greatest gay activists ever ashes remain interned and sitting  in a storeroom of a Washington, D.C. cemetery over a year after his death because a Washington, D.C. group named “Helping Our Brothers and Sisters” bought Kameny a burial plot after his death because of Kameny’s lack of funds and the estate will not allow the interment of the ashes to take place until HOBS signs over ownership of the cemetery plot to the estate.

This is an insult and injustice to the legacy and memory of Frank Kameny and reeks of nothing more than petty behavior and an outright attempt to make as much money for Mr. Clark and Mr. Ackerman in the guise of “protecting” Dr. Kameny’s legacy while doing nothing more than spitting on it.

This is nothing less than a gay travesty and a disservice to the memory and the great works of Dr, Frank Kameny and  Timothy Lamont Clark and Glen Ackerman should be ashamed.

Asteroid Named For Gay Rights Pioneer and Hero Frank Kameny

Formerly known as Minor Planet 40463,  the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter is is now known as Frankkamney in honor of “one of the most significant figures” in the Gay American Civil  Rights movement.

A Canadian amateur astronomer has named an asteroid he discovered after U.S. gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny, who died last year in Washington. Kameny, who earned a doctorate in astronomy at Harvard University, was an astronomer with the U.S. Army Map Service in the 1950s but was fired from his job for being gay. He contested the firing all the way to the Supreme Court and later organized the first gay rights protests outside the White House, the Pentagon and in Philadelphia in the 1960s.

A very fitting and heartfelt tribute to a great man.

Obama Snubs LGBT Civil Rights Pioneer Frank Kameny, Not Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

Yesterday, President Barack Obama named thirteen recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  The Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor given to individuals who have made great contributions to the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

This years recipients included Madeleine Albright, John Doar, Bob Dylan, John Glenn, John Paul Stevens, and Dolores Huerta among others.   But conspicuously absent from this years awards was a posthumous to LGBT Civil Rights hero Frank Kameny who passed away earlier this year.

Frank Kameny, along with Harvey Milk  is “one of the most significant figures’ in the American LGBT civil rights movement history.   In 1957, Kameny was dismissed from his position as an astronomer in the Army Map Service in Washington, D.C. because of his homosexuality, leading him to begin “a Herculean struggle with the American establishment” that would “spearhead a new period of militancy in the homosexual rights movement of the early 1960s”.  Kameny later went on to co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, DC, became the first openly gay candidate for the United States Congress in 1973, and stayed actively involved and at the forefront of the LGBT civil rights movement until his death last year on October 11, 2011 at age 86.

From Michael Petrelis at The Petrelis Files:

In death, I thought gay pioneer Frank Kameny would be palatable to President Obama when deciding this year’s Medal of Freedom recipients. Well, our Less-than-Fierce Advocate-in-Chief announced the latest batch of awardees yesterday and Kameny’s name was omitted.

My thinking was that the White House would not risk giving this gay icon the award while he was alive, because he might go off-script at the reception and ceremony for the  honorees and say something to anger the administration, but once he had passed on Obama would give him this award. I was wrong.

Our lame Democratic Party gay leadership at the Human Rights Campaign issued a release lauding Obama choosing longtime gay ally and labor advocate Dolores Huerta as a recipient, and failed to express disappointment that Kameny was not posthumously selected along with Huerta. Foolish of me to even think HRC could praise the president, salute Huerta and advocate for Kameny getting the Medal of Freedom if Obama is reelected.

Not only is it a shame Obama didn’t award Kameny the Medal of Freedom in 2012, it’s equally troubling that HRC and AFER expended no energy and resources fiercely advocating on Kameny’s behalf.

Kameny and his legacy more than deserve to be recognized and included in Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients.

But it seems that in an election year not only is it to risky to sign an executive order against LGBT discrimination in the workplace.  But its even too “controversial” to award one of the most prolific LGBT rights pioneers this country has even seen a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Democratic cowardice at its best, once again.