Trailblazing gay activist, astronomer, and World War II veteran Frank Kameny passed away Tuesday, the Washington Blade reports. He was 86.
Kameny was an early pioneer in taking the Pentagon to task for discharging gays and lesbians. In 1961, Kameny filed a lawsuit challenging his discharge from the Army Map Service because he was gay, decades before the U.S. Supreme Court declared sodomy laws unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003. He led a demonstration against the military in 1965, and his death comes just weeks after a new era began in the military, as gays and lesbians began serving openly after "don't ask, don't tell" was repealed.
Kameny and the city's local Mattachine Society chapter later took Washington, D.C. by storm for its treatment of gay federal employees. After years of protest, the Civil Service Commission (now the Office of Personnel Management) announced it would end its ban on openly gay employees in 1973. He was also instrumental in pushing the American Psychiatric Association to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness.
In 2009, Kameny received a formal apology from OPM for being fired because of his sexual orientation. He was also honored by the Obama Administration when the president signed a policy to extend benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.
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