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Dr. Frank Kameny, 86, Pioneering Gay Activist, Passed Away in Washington on October 11
photo courtesy of Stonewall Democrats
Frank Kameny
Dr. Frank Kameny, Ph.D., who was born in New York City, in 1925, and co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington (MSW) in 1961, died in Washington, D.C., on October 11 at the age of 86. With MSW, he picketed the Civil Rights Commission and the State Department, after he was fired from his Federal Civil Service job as an astronomer with the Army Map Commission, after government agents claimed, “We have information that leads us to believe you are a homosexual.” In the first American civil rights discrimination law suit on the basis of sexual orientation, he sued and took his landmark case to the Supreme Court, which declined to review his appeal in March 1961.
Author of his own legal brief, quoted in “The Gay Crusaders” (Paperback Library, 1972), by Kay Tobin, with Randy Wicker, Kameny wrote, “In World War II, petitioner did not hesitate to fight the Germans, with bullets, in order to help preserve his rights and freedoms and liberties, and those of others. In 1960, it is ironically necessary that he fight the Americans, with words, in order to preserve, against a tyrannical government, some of those same rights, freedoms, and liberties, for himself and for others … In its role as an employer, the government’s only proper concern is with the employee’s work and conduct during working hours, not at other times. It is not for the government-as-employer to attempt to intercede in the employee’s private affairs. These are matters between the employee himself and his conscience, and between him and his associates in such private life, but not between him and his employer …
“Our government exists to protect and assist all of its citizens, not, as in the case of homosexuals, to harm, to victimize, and to destroy them…
“ [T]he Civil Service Commission’s policy on homosexuality is improperly discriminatory, in that it discriminates against an entire group, not considered as individuals, in a manner in which other similar groups are not discriminated against, and in that this discrimination has no basis in reason, it is inconsistent with other policy and practice, and thus is plainly arbitrary and capricious.”
In 1971, Kameny ran, unsuccessfully, for Congress, and also led a demonstration against the American Psychiatric Association, meeting in Washington, D.C., insisting, “Homosexuality is not an affliction, and by God, we’re going to enjoy it!”

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