December 10, 2010 | by Peter Rosenstein
Kameny honored on Capitol Hill

Longtime activist Frank Kameny was presented with the 2010 Cornelius R. “Neil” Alexander Humanitarian Award at Friday’s 2010 Human Rights Luncheon.

The lunch, which took place in the Caucus room of the Cannon House Office Building, is sponsored by the United Nations Association of the Capital Area in cooperation with the District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights and the District’s Office of Human Rights (OHR).

The award is among many that Kameny has received in the past year for his work as a pioneer in the LGBT rights movement. In presenting the award, Gustavo Velasquez, director of OHR, recounted Kameny’s work from the time in 1959 — when he testified in opposition to an increase in the District’s police force as long as cops were harassing gays — to his receiving an apology last year from the Office of Personnel Management 52 years after being fired from the civil service.

When Kameny spoke he joked that he is still waiting for his back pay. He spoke proudly of his work as the first openly gay member of the D.C. Human Rights Commission; his efforts to fight the federal government’s ban on letting gays serve in civil service jobs, his work fighting sodomy laws and his work supporting marriage equality in the District of Columbia. Kameny said he is also proud of coining the phrase “Gay is Good” and suggested that if he is remembered for anything he wants it to be that.

He received two standing ovations from the group. Also attending the lunch were Christopher Dyer, Mayor Fenty’s director of the Office of GLBT Affairs; Jeffrey Richardson, president of the Stein Club, Rick Rosendall of GLAA and Eugene Dewitt Kinlow, director of Public Affairs for DC Vote. Other awards given at the lunch included the Louis B. Sohn Human Rights Award to Daniel B. Magraw, Jr. and a UNA-NCA Community Human Rights Award to Daniel Solomon for his work with DC Vote.

2 Comments
  • Having failed us over the last nearly two years regarding his promises to personally fight as soon as he took office to end the military ban, perhaps the President can atone at least in part by awarding the Medal of Freedom to Frank that he should have given him LAST year for, among other things, being, at one time, a gay servicemember’s only hope of help, and inspiring the sacrifice of the first person to out himself to fight the ban 35 years ago, Leonard Matlovich. Goddess bless you, Frank! With ten more of you we would long ago have won full equality both in the military and at home.

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