Frank Kameny: No Longer “Unsuitable for Federal Employment”
June 24, 2009
Today, I joined a handful of HRC staffers and interns to attend a ceremony honoring Dr. Frank Kameny, the LGBT civil rights hero, coiner of the phrase “Gay is Good” and longtime Washington DC resident. Dr. Kameny was being honored by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), formerly the Civil Service Commission (CSC) - the department that fired Dr. Kameny 52 years ago. After a warm introduction by Len Hirsch, the President of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Employees of the Federal Government (GLOBE), Dr. Kameny spoke for about 20 minutes, giving an overview of his work to bring fairness and equality into both the Federal workplace and the broader American society. His speech, which I observed brought damp eyes to more than a few in attendance, was fascinating and really helped put into perspective, for a young gay man, the progress our movement has made in just 50 or so years. It was 52 years ago that the CSC fired Dr. Kameny, based solely on his sexual orientation. Today, the successor of the CSC, the OPM, is headed by openly gay Obama appointee John Berry – making him the highest-ranking openly gay official. After Dr. Kameny’s inspiring account Director Berry awarded him the Theodore Roosevelt Award, the OPM’s highest honor. In addition, Director Berry delivered a proclamation to Dr. Kameny thanking him for his service to his country and apologizing for his previous discharge from the Federal government. I feel truly honored to have been a witness at this event.