January 27, 2012 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Kameny honored by Astronomical Society

The late Frank Kameny (Blade photo by Michael Key)

The American Astronomical Society Jan. 10 recognized the late gay rights leader Frank Kameny with a certificate of appreciation commemorating his “lifetime efforts” to advance the cause of gay rights.

Kameny held a doctorate degree in astronomy from Harvard University and worked for the federal government as an astronomer in Washington in the late 1950s before authorities fired him for being gay, prompting him to become a life-long advocate for LGBT equality.

In a ceremony at its semiannual meeting in Austin, Texas, AAS President Debra Elmegreen presented the certificate on Kameny’s behalf to Charles Francis, a D.C. gay rights advocate who co-founded the Kameny Papers Project.

The project arranged for the Library of Congress in Washington to obtain thousands of documents that Kameny generated in more than 50 years of advocacy work on behalf of LGBT equality.

“The American Astronomical Society, in light of its commitment to diversity and equality, hereby honors the memory of the astronomer Dr. Franklin Edward Kameny for his exemplary lifelong commitment to promoting equal rights for homosexual men and women,” the certificate says.

“Dr. Kameny’s activism removed discriminatory barriers that had cut short many careers,” it says. “Dr. Kameny tirelessly advocated against policies that banned gays from working for the federal government, holding security clearances, or serving openly in the military.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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