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The Battle Frank Kameny Took Up

Rob Tisinai

October 12th, 2011

Jim has posted a lovely tribute to Frank Kameny below. I’d like to add a note of my own.

With presidential hopefuls saying our struggle has nothing in common with the civil rights movement, with lawyers from the House of Representatives — paid for with our tax dollars — claiming gays don’t face a significant history of discrimination, this is a good time to look at the huge, official, morally-sanctioned, seemingly-unbreachable wall of bigotry, ignorance, and hate that Kameny helped knock down.

Start with this letter to Kameny from the US Department of Commerce, explaining why it’s just good sense to fire homosexuals (click to enlarge):

Here’s one from the State Department, saying that if an open homosexual is to be hired, then at the very least the homosexual would have to admit to being sick:

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This is the battle Kameny faced. You can find more in the Kameny Papers Archive.

I’ll tell you, sometimes I feel moral exhaustion just from monitoring the extreme, fringe, anti-gay views of Tony Perkins, Bryan Fischer, and the folks at NOM. I’m awestruck by Kameny’s courage and fortitude in fighting this sort of bigotry when it was the official policy of the federal government.

The company I work for doesn’t discriminate against gays. I owe Kameny for that. The Board of Directors doesn’t see my orientation as bringing hatred, ridicule, and contempt to the firm. The HR department will never brand me as sick or emotionally disturbed for being gay. I owe Kameny for that.

I owe Frank Kameny a lot.

The battle’s not done. Perkins, Fischer, and the rest of them are working to bring back the bad old days. We still have to fight. We have to ensure Kameny’s legacy of dignity and respect isn’t ground into the mud of bigotry and hate. But thanks to Frank Kameny, many of us — not all, perhaps not even most — but at least many of us can take up the cause without fear of losing our jobs, our homes, our very means of survival.

Rest in peace, Frank Kameny. You’ve earned it.

Comments

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andrew
October 12th, 2011 | LINK

My partner and I are nearly 3/4 of a generation apart, age-wise, and we’ve had a LOT of conversations about the changes we see in the young of today.

He’s annoyed and concerned about the lack of a sense of history in our young people – especially young gay people – who take the relative freedoms and ease for granted, without any appreciation for the discrimination and hardships that have come before (and that’s not even discussing 2 generations decimated by HIV/AIDS) – which he feels leads to a lack of vigilance, activism, etc.

At the same time, I have to remind him that the flip side of this is that young people today – gay and straight – seem to be operating from a tabula rasa – that the notion of discrimination against gays for them is as anathema as it would be to argue against the right of women to vote, or for blacks to get services whereever the hell they want. It just doesn’t compute for them – that’s from “the olden days”.

I’m not sure what the relationship is there – whether ignorance of the past makes it easier for the next generation to shrug off oppressive and outdated ideas, even though it sometimes means a lack of appreciation for what it took to make that possible. Whether the price of “well, duh” is, effectively “huh?”.

Either way, I certainly appreciate it, and man am I glad I live in a generation and a society where Kameny was my elder.

San Diego Rob
October 12th, 2011 | LINK

So in order for us to get the right to work in the State Dept, we also had to let in all the adulterers, fornicators, and child molesters. I wonder who advocated for the removal of those other issues? We’re born this way, they choose to do those things behind their wives back, that is their choice!

Think about it, half of congress would be expelled.

I was disgusted at some of the hateful comments I read from people on the yahoo news article about his passing. This country is so ignorant.

MattNYC
October 13th, 2011 | LINK

SDR,

That will teach you a lesson about reading the comments on Yahoo. :-/ Usually within the first three, I am sick to my stomach.

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