Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Activist Frank Kameny recognized at the White House

Activist (and astronomer) Frank Kameny was honored at a White House ceremony as part of Pride month.

The U.S. government officially apologized to Dr. Kameny, who was fired by the United States Civil Service Commission 52 years ago because of his sexual orientation.

"With the fervent passion of a true patriot, you did not resign yourself to your fate or quietly endure this wrong," said John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management. "With courage and strength, you fought back. And so today, I am writing to advise you that this policy, which was at odds with the bedrock principles underlying the merit-based civil service, has been repudiated by the United States Government, due in large part to your determination and life's work, and to the thousands of Americans whose advocacy your words have inspired."

Dr. Kameny was instrumental in getting homosexuality dropped from the manual of mental disorders used by American psychiatrists. He also fought a long battle with the US government over the denial of security clearances to gay people, a battle finally won under the Clinton administration.

He was also a professional astronomer, until he was thrown out of the Army Map Service. Here's his publication list on ADS. As a professional astronomer and a lesbian, I'm grateful to Dr. Kameny and the other pioneers for making it possible for folks like me to live openly.

1 comment:

Jonathan Lubin said...

Twenty years ago, I was in DC as a program officer at the NSF, and would go to most of the meetings of one of the local lesbigay political organizations. Frank Kameny was always there too, being his usual impatient, outspoken, immoderate self. He has damned good political instincts, as well.
Too few people know of the tremendous contributions he’s made to our liberation. Long may he wave!