U.S. Government Formally Apologizes for 1957 Firing of Gay Astronomer

Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Franklin Kameny

When the federal government fired Franklin Kameny in 1957 for being a homosexual, it unknowingly launched the young astronomer into a new career as a leading gay rights activist. After losing his civilian job for the U.S. Army’s mapping service, Kameny founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, one of the early movers for ending discrimination against gay men and lesbians in all quarters of society. Kameny also went on to become the first openly gay candidate for Congress, in 1971.

On Monday the federal government finally apologized to Kameny for his dismissal more than 50 years ago. John Berry, head of the Office of Personnel Management and the highest ranking openly gay member of a presidential administration, presented Kameny with the agency’s highest honor, the Theodore Roosevelt Award, and a letter of apology. Calling Kameny’s firing “a shameful action,” Berry told the one-time civil servant, “With the fervent passion of a true patriot, you did not resign yourself to your fate or quietly endure this wrong. With courage and strength, you fought back.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Gov't Apologizes to Kameny (by Kevin Naff, Washington Blade)
The Kameny Pages (Rainbow History Project)


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