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Gay Rights Pioneer Frank Kameny Dies

Gay Rights Pioneer Frank Kameny Dies


Longtime 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 federal government to task for firing gays and lesbians. In 1961, Kameny filed a lawsuit challenging his dismissal. He led a demonstration against the military in 1965, 12 years after he was discharged from the Army Map Service. He and the city's local Mattachine Society chapter later took Washington, D.C., by storm in protest of the 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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