life cleared the path that I and countless others followed into public service."
--John Berry, who in 2009 became the Obama administration's highest-level gay
appointment, during a memorial service for Frank Kameny
paid tribute last week to a gay icon. The director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, John Berry
and several members of the U.S. Congress said farewell to
Dr. Frank Edward Kameny by
thanking him for paving a
path toward the equality that LGBT America is set to realize.
video below reflects highlights from the service held in the historic Cannon Caucus Room, featuring a remembrance by William Eskridge Jr., a professor
of jurisprudence at Yale University, and Reps. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Eleanor Holmes Norton
of the District of Columbia, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.
When in college, Baldwin, the
first openly lesbian congresswoman who is now running for U.S. Senate, notes
she had little by way of resources to look to and credits Kameny's example
during this time of her need.
became known as the first gay person to fight the federal government because of
his dismissal on the grounds of homosexuality from his job as an astronomer in
1957. Norton compared this act by Kameny to Rosa Parks' refusal to sit in the
back of the bus as an act of defiance of the South's segregation laws.
Frank, who is known for some
straightforward talk of his own, said one of Kameny's many accomplishments in
the gay rights movement was his "self-confidence and aggressive and assertive
demeanor in informing the world that his cause was just and right."
an eye-opening moment came when, as an aside, the co-founder
of the Kameny Papers, Charles Francis, walked up to the young videographer who
submitted this piece and said: "It is especially good to see a young person
here acknowledging what the older generation has done. Your generation will be
picking up the torch."
Indeed Kameny's flame burns brightly and that is why we were in
D.C. last week. The story of his life inspires those of us who march on.
MELANIE NATHAN is a lawyer and human rights
activist who is author of the GAY
U.S.A. the Blog, which is run in conjunction with GAY U.S.A. the Movie.