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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 29, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 22
Frank Kameny to be honored with spot in Labor Hall of Honor
Section One
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Frank Kameny to be honored with spot in Labor Hall of Honor

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The U.S. Department of Labor will honor LGBT rights pioneer Frank Kameny with a spot in its Hall of Honor.

'Kameny's legacy as a civil rights leader has made a monumental difference in improving the lives of all workers all across America,' the Labor Department said in a May 27 press release. The formal induction ceremony will take place June 23.

Kameny was fired from his job with the U.S. Map Service in 1958 after he admitted his sexual orientation when questioned by the U.S. Civil Service Commission.

In that respect, he was no different from many other Gay men and Lesbians who lost their jobs during the 1950s.

He was different in one respect, however. Kameny did not take the firing lying down. He sued the federal government, ultimately appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied his petition for relief in 1961.

Kameny then helped to found the Gay Activist Alliance - an organization which still exists as the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance - the first LGBT rights group in Washington DC.

In 1965, Kameny led the first Gay rights demonstration at the White House.

Kameny later coined the slogan, 'Gay is Good,' to combat negative stereotypes of Gay and Lesbian people, and in 1971 he became the first openly Gay candidate for Congress.

That year, he also publicly challenged the scientific validity of the American Psychiatric Association's theory that homosexuality constituted a mental disorder at APA's national meeting.

In 1975, almost two decades after Kameny was fired by the Army, the Civil Service Commission announced it would no longer exclude Gays and Lesbians from government employment.

Twenty years later, President Bill Clinton signed an executive order to allow LGBT employees to hold security clearances and high government positions.

Kameny died in 2011 at age 86.

'Frank Kameny was a groundbreaking leader in the LGBT civil rights movement. He fought tirelessly to live out his truth and to end workplace discrimination,' said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. 'At the Department of Labor we work every day to carry on his legacy and ensure that all workers, no matter who they are or who they love, have equal access to opportunity.'

Kameny will be the second openly Gay honoree of the Labor Department. African American civil rights leader Bayard Rustin has also been awarded a place in the Hall of Honor. In addition to Rustin, Kameny joins the likes of Sen. Ted Kennedy, former Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, and United Farm Workers leader Dolores Huerta.

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