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Gay Rights Activist Frank Kameny Gets Apology from U.S. Govt

Yesterday, gay rights activist Frank Kameny received an official apology from White House Office of Personnel Management head, openly gay John Berry, for firing Kameny in 1957 because he was gay, the Washington Blade reports.

Kameny Said the letter, in part: “In what we know today was a shameful action, the United States Civil Service Commission in 1957 upheld your dismissal from your job solely on the basis of your sexual orientation,” the letter states. “… And by virtue of the authority vested in me as Director of the Office Of Personnel Management, it is my duty and great pleasure to inform you that I am adding my support … for the repudiation of the reasoning of the 1957 finding by the United States Civil Service Commission to dismiss you from your job solely on the basis of your sexual orientation. Please accept our apology for the consequences of the previous policy of the United States government.”

Read the full letter at the Blade.

Said Kameny: "Apology accepted."

In February, Kameny's home in Washington D.C. was declared an historic landmark:

"...not because of its gabled roof or side-hall plan, but because, for 13 fiery years, it was the epicenter of the gay rights movement in the nation's capital."

In 2007, Kameny donated more than 70,000 papers related to gay rights to the Library of Congress, inspiring a hate campaign by wingnuts. A few of his artifacts are now in the Smithsonian as well:

"[Protest signs], plus three campaign buttons, are now in the same case as Joe Louis's boxing gloves, near the glass closet that holds Jackie Kennedy's inaugural gown and in the same shrinelike exhibit...that also has Thomas Jefferson's writing desk and the ruby-red slippers that Dorothy wore on her way to meet the Wizard."

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  1. Frank Kameny is one of our heroes, one of the first to take up the fight for equality. From him we can learn about patience and persistence and, perhaps, graciousness. For him we must never give up. And while we're focusing on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, let's recognize that Mr. Kameny was fired 12 years before that. Our fight for equality did not begin just 40 years ago.

    Posted by: jpeckjr | Jun 25, 2009 9:32:56 AM


  2. THREE CHEERS FOR FRANK! I knew him long ago and it's wonderful to see him receive these various honors while he's still around to enjoy them.

    It was reading an interview with Frank, and then several conversations, that inspired Leonard to out himself to his Air Force commanding officer and start the battle against the military gay ban still insanely going on 34 years later.

    And six months after January 20th, 2009. So NOW [after apologizing for Obama's forgetting to introduce Frank at that signing charade last week] this government needs to apologize for continuing to discharge gays, defending DADT in court in homophobic terms, refusing to freeze discharges and kickstarting Congressional repeal.

    "Equality is a moral imperative. ... As your President, I will use the bully pulpit......Americans are yearning for leadership that can empower us to reach for what we know is possible. I believe that we can achieve the goal of full equality for the millions of LGBT people in this country. To do that, we need leadership that can appeal to the best parts of the human spirit. Join with me, and I will provide that leadership. ... I will never compromise on my commitment to equal rights for all LGBT Americans. ...America is ready to get rid of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. All that is required is leadership. That work should have started long ago. It will start
    when I take office." - Barack Obama

    Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | Jun 25, 2009 11:38:05 AM


  3. While it is commendable for the WH to acknowledge that the actions of a few misguided individuals in the 40's and 50's destroyed lives solely based on sexual orientation, it does not remove the pain, stigma,lost hopes and futures which were destroyed in those days due to prejudice.
    We all Love Frank for his strength and perseverance but one must still ask "what Might have been had these dismissal had not occurred? thousands of lives were destroyed then and as now with DADT!! The times have changed but the same prejudices still exist and only now it is by Government fiat - DADT Must GO!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by: alex in boston | Jun 25, 2009 11:46:50 AM


  4. Yay for Frank!

    Posted by: EchoMark | Jun 25, 2009 1:07:08 PM


  5. Michael@ Leonard..., you seem to never let a chance to be negative pass you by. I am extremely sorry for your anger. I really do understand where it comes from, but, you simply must not let it eat you up from the inside. I have suffered a stroke from stress and anger and it's not cute (and I am not old). Try to think of how much progress we have made in such a short time (the last 5 yrs have been amazing) and be happy that so many Gays are now not hiding, but, openly demanding their rights.

    My dad (RIP) used to tell me, "if a man apologizes, you must accept it and never throw it back in their face." I live by that credo. It lets a lot of anger dissipate.

    Posted by: Derek Washington | Jun 25, 2009 1:16:48 PM


  6. I take your concern as genuine, Derek, and, therefore, thank you, as well as regretting your stroke.

    HOWEVER, an apology, by definition, indicates that the one apologizing is NOT continuing to do the same kind of things which this government is over half-a-century after the event.

    GOV: "I apologize for wrecking your truck!

    MOI: "But you're still burning my house and barn down, repossessing my farm, and shooting all my livestock.

    GOV: But I apologized for wrecking your truck!

    Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | Jun 25, 2009 1:52:32 PM


  7. Michael: Good example!!

    Posted by: Derek Washington | Jun 25, 2009 2:23:51 PM


  8. doesn't he look like a moray eel? I know we can't choose our heroes but whatef. Peace.

    Posted by: cd | Jun 25, 2009 2:47:59 PM


  9. While it is commendable for the WH to acknowledge that the actions of a few misguided individuals in the 40's and 50's destroyed lives solely based on sexual orientation

    "A few misguided individuals"? Are you kidding?

    Posted by: BobN | Jun 25, 2009 5:04:34 PM


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