June 26, 2015
Frank Kameny (1925-2011), the first federal employee to challenge antigay discrimination in the courts, was inducted into the Labor Department’s Hall of Honor June 23. The award puts him in a pantheon that includes Samuel Gompers, Cesar Chavez, Walter Reuther of the United Auto Workers, former Sen. Edward Kennedy, and former Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins.
Kameny, a World War II veteran who had a Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard, was fired from his job as an astronomer for the U.S. Army Map Service in 1957 because of his sexual orientation. After the Supreme Court in 1961 refused to hear his discrimination lawsuit, he went on to become a pioneer in the LGBT-rights movement. He cofounded the Gay Activist Alliance, led the first LGBT civil-rights demonstration at the White House in 1965, and is credited with sparking the movement that led to the Civil Service Commission’s 1975 declaration that gays and lesbians would no longer be barred from government employment. “Frank Kameny was a groundbreaking leader in the LGBT civil-rights movement,” Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said in a statement. “He fought tirelessly to live out his truth and to end workplace discrimination.” Read more