Dr. Franklin E. Kameny



Dr. Franklin E. Kameny (born May 21, 1925 in New York City) is one of the “most significant figures" in the American gay rights movement. In 1957, Dr. 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 homophile movement" and "spearhead a new period of militancy in the homosexual rights movement of the early 1960s".In 1961, Kameny argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that a federal policy calling homosexuals a security risk was "no less odious than discrimination based upon religious or racial grounds." It was the first civil rights claim in a U.S. court based on sexual orientation. Also, he and Jack Nichols co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, an organization that pressed aggressively for gay and lesbian civil rights.

Dr. Kameny is credited with bringing an aggressive new tone to the gay civil rights struggle. Dr. Kameny and the Mattachine Society of Washington pressed 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 1968, Dr. Kameny, inspired by Stokely Carmichael's creation of the phrase "Black is Beautiful", created the slogan "Gay is Good" for the gay civil rights movement. Kameny and Nichols launched the first public protests by gays and lesbians with a picket line at the White House on April 17, 1965.In 1963, Dr. Kameny and Mattachine launched a campaign to overturn sodomy laws and to remove the classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder from the American Psychiatric Association's manual of mental disorders.

In 1971, Dr. Kameny became the first openly gay candidate for the U.S. Congress when he ran in the District of Columbia's first election for a non-voting delegate to Congress. Following that election, 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.Dr. Kameny was a panel member when John E. Fryer appeared at a 1973 American Psychiatric Association symposium on homosexuality and psychiatry as Dr H. Anonymous, an event which influenced the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from the organization's list of mental illnesses.Dr. Kameny was appointed as the first openly gay member of the District of Columbia's Human Rights Commission in the 1970s.He was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II in Europe, and served 20 years on the Selective Service board. Dr. Kameny is a member of Triangle Foundation's Board of Advisors.In 2007, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History included Kameny's picket signs carried in front of the White House in 1965, and now has 12 of the original picket signs carried by gay and lesbian Americans at this first ever White House demonstration. The Library of Congress acquired in 2006 Dr. Kameny's papers documenting his life and leadership.

In February 2009, Kameny’s home in Washington was designated as a D.C. Historic Landmark by the District of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Review Board.