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DC Commission on Human Rights (DCCHR) and the DC Office of Human Rights (DCOHR) Mourn the Loss of GLBT Activist Frank Kameny

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
DCCHR and DCOHR mourn the passing of the founder of the GLBT civil rights movement and 2010 recipient of the third annual Cornelius R. “Neil” Alexander Humanitarian Award.

The District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights (DCCHR) and the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (DCOHR) mourn the loss of Dr. Frank Kameny, a human rights activist and one of the founders of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender affairs civil rights movement both nationally and locally.  

Dr. Kameny was the 2010 recipient of the Cornelius R. “Neil” Alexander Humanitarian Award.  The award celebrates the efforts and accomplishments of individuals who have made significant contributions in the field of human or civil rights and to improving the quality of life in the District of Columbia.

“The world lost a pioneer yesterday with the passing of Dr. Kameny,” said DCOHR Director Gustavo Velasquez. “His legacy has played an integral role in the advancement of GLBT rights and his passing during a time when we are witnessing increased violence against the Transgender community is especially poignant and serves as a reminder of the importance of tolerance.”

In 1959, Dr. Kameny wrote in opposition to a proposed increase in the size of the DC Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPD) police force as long as they were wasting their existing personnel on harassing homosexuals.  In 1961, he co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington with Jack Nichols, and in the ensuing years Mattachine fought back against police entrapment, forcing a gradual retreat by MPD. In 1975, at DC's first Home Rule budget hearing, Dr. Kameny’s leadership resulted in GAA successfully persuading the DC Council to delete the line item that funded the Metropolitan Police Department's Morals Division.  In 1973, Frank lead a successful campaign to have the American Physiological Association recognize that homosexuality was no longer a mental illness. 

The recent passage of marriage equality legislation is in part due to the work of Dr. Kameny, as well as members of the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance, an organization that he founded 37 years ago.

For a quarter-century beginning in 1980, Frank led GLAA's annual wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, honoring all service members who have given their lives in defense of America, including but not limited to gay and lesbian service members. This year marked the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.