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Frank Kameny: Hero of the gay rights movement

Frank Kameny in suit and tie

Frank Kameny was the founder of the gay rights movement. He was born in 1925 and died on October 11, 2011, at the age of 86. His activism began in 1957 when he looked out his window and saw two young men being arrested for kissing in public, which is illegal under a D.C. “sodomy law.” This sparked Frank’s anger against these discriminatory laws, and he filed lawsuits to try to overturn them. In 1965 Kameny organized pickets outside the White House with signs that read “End police harassment” and “Homosexuals demand equal protection.” Kameny was fired from his federal job because of anti-sodomy laws, and he continued to fight for gay rights.

In 1973, Kameny filed a class-action lawsuit challenging the military’s policy on homosexuality, eventually leading President Jimmy Carter to lift their ban in 1981. Frank also co-founded the Mattachine Society that advocated for gay people’s rights and helped found an early version of what is now known as Gay Pride Week or LGBT pride week. Many consider Frank Kameny the father of the gay rights movement because it all started with him looking out his window at two men kissing being arrested by police officers who thought they were breaking “the law.

Frank was bright and excelled in school

Born Frank Edward Kameny in the suburbs.” of Washington D.C., Frank Kameny was raised as a Christian by his father and mother. Frank attended Harvard University, exposed to Communism and Socialism, which led him to become a Marxist for a time. Frank started working for the U.S. Army Map Service as a civilian cartographer after graduating from university in 1949, where he would work until 1953, when he was fired for being gay.

Frank fought back against this policy which lasted until 1962 when Congress voted to amend the Civil Service Act of 1883 so that homosexuality could no longer be considered grounds for dismissal from government employment. Frank then stayed with the Army until 1964, when he started to attend law school. Frank continued to fight his dismissal in the court system but eventually lost every case that went through the courts, leading Frank to file petitions with various civil rights commissions. Frank began working for the Mattachine Society and Mattachine Midwest in Chicago as a paid organizer while attending law school at night. Frank earned his law degree from George Washington University Law School in 1967, whereupon he established the first gay-positive law practice in Washington D.C. Frank’s own case against being fired from his government job was upheld by the United States District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on October 16, 1979. It set a new precedent on employment discrimination cases.

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Frank Kameny is responsible for establishing gay rights legal organizations and co-founded the National Gay Rights Task Force and Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund.

frank kameny waving to supporters during a gay rights movement event

Frank Kameny recieved many honors

Such as when Frank received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from George Washington University in 1982, Harvard’s Annual Paulson Lecture in 1993, and the American Psychological Association Lesbian/Gay Caucus Award for Public Policy in 1994. Frank also created a webpage on Frank Kameny in association with the Library of Congress, where Frank is still known as one of the most influential people in LGBT history. Frank Kameny also worked closely with Frank Laub, another major LGBT figure.

Kameny used his own identity as an organizing technique for the LGBT rights movement. He wanted to shine a light on how society viewed homosexuality by being open about his own sexuality. Frank’s support of gay rights led to him losing his job at George Washington University. Kameny ended up working as an engineer but continued to be active in the gay rights movement until he died in 2011

Frank Kameny, a pioneering activist in the gay-rights movement who fought against discrimination and helped organize the first pro-gay demonstration at the White House, died Friday of cancer. He was 86

(Washington Post, 2011)

Frank Kameny once said in an interview with the Washington Post: “When I speak to audiences, sometimes young people come up afterward and say, ‘You know, you look like my grandfather.’ And then they can see a grandfather doing what their grandfather was doing 50 years ago. That’s important.”

The fight for LGBT equality is ongoing

In many states – most notably North Carolina – lawmakers have recently pushed through measures to restrict the rights of LGBT people on issues including marriage and adoption. Despite these limitations, the fight continues with devoted activists like Frank Kameny standing up for those discriminated against. Even today, activists are advocating for civil rights for gays–just as Kameny did more than 50 years ago when he stood outside of the White House carrying a picket sign that read: “HOMOSEXUALS-INCLUDING JESSE JACKSON–WANTED FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES.”

23 June 2015 – Washington, DC – DOL Pride Month Celebration included the Hall of Honor Induction of Frank Kameny to the honor wall. U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, Eric Fanning, DOD Chief of Staff, all delivered remarks honoring Frank Kameny and his life’s accomplishments fighting for the LGBT community.

Synopsis of the gay rights movement

1. The gay rights movement is a series of events and ideas that advocate for the equal treatment of LGBTQ people

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2. In 1969, the Stonewall Riots in New York City marked an important turning point in the gay rights movement

3. In 1990, AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) was formed as a direct response to President Reagan’s inaction on HIV/AIDS research and prevention efforts

4. Many other notable figures played an instrumental role in the advancement of gay rights, including Harvey Milk, Marsha P Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Bayard Rustin, and more

5. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right

6. The gay rights movement has faced opposition and criticism from Christian conservatives who have called for stricter laws against homosexuality and non-discrimination protections for LGBT individuals

7. International awareness of the gay rights movement has been growing since 1969, when New Zealand decriminalized gay acts between two men

8. It was not until 2005 that homosexuality was decriminalized in China, where it had previously been punishable by prison time or death

9. While homosexuality is banned throughout most of Africa, South Africa became the first country on the continent to legalize same-sex marriage, doing so in 2006

10. In 2015, Same-sex sexual activity is punishable by death in 13 countries; this is down from an all-time high of 21

Conclusion

1. The gay rights movement has been one of the most controversial social movements in modern history

2. In its early stages, the gay rights movement was primarily focused on decriminalizing homosexuality and ensuring that it wasn’t seen as a mental illness

3. As time went on, the focus shifted to more political goals such as same-sex marriage, adoption laws, and military service

4. Today’s primary goal is for equality under the law for LGBT people with regards to employee benefits and protections from discrimination in housing or public accommodations

5. The fight continues today with some successes but many setbacks along the way

6. The gay rights movement has experienced many important events which have led to the successes and setbacks it experiences today.

We need to remember activists like Frank Kameny, who fought for the gay rights movement when no one else would.

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