A grave site ceremony for the late gay rights leader Franklin E. Kameny will be held March 3 at D.C.’s Congressional Cemetery, organizers of the event announced on Wednesday.
“All friends, family and the public are welcome to observe the interment for Dr. Kameny at historic Congressional Cemetery,” the announcement says. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.
“The informal observance will include brief remarks as well as recognition by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network of Dr. Kameny’s honorable military service during World War II,” it says.
Charles Francis, co-founder of the Kameny Papers Project, said Kameny’s friends and associates organizing the ceremony applied for and received a formal military veteran’s headstone provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs identical to the ones used for burials at Arlington National Cemetery.
The inscription on the headstone will identify Kameny’s rank, military service, World War engagement in Germany, where Kameny served in combat, along with his date of birth and death – May 25, 1925 – Oct. 11, 2011.
Francis said a separate pink granite grave marker will include the inscription, “Gay is Good,” the slogan Kameny coined in the 1960s that he has said symbolized his nearly 50-year campaign to bring about equal rights for LGBT people.
Congressional Cemetery, located near Capitol Hill, was founded in 1807 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2011.
Among the 55,000 people interred there is one U.S. vice president, one Supreme Court justice, six cabinet members, 19 U.S. senators, and 71 U.S. representatives, according to literature released by the cemetery.
Francis and Kameny Papers Project co-founder Bob Witeck said the Kameny grave site will be next to that of U.S. Air Force veteran Leonard Matlovich, who became the first active duty member of the military to publicly declare he was gay in 1975. Kameny played a key role in advising Matlovich in his effort to end the military’s ban on gay service members.
The Kameny gravesite is also near the gravesite of the late FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and Hoover’s longtime companion Clyde Tolson.
As part of a longstanding tradition by U.S. presidents, all U.S. military veterans receiving Department of Veterans Affairs’ headstones for their interment also receive an official certificate of recognition signed by the president.
Kameny’s certificate states, “The United States of America honors the memory of Franklin E. Kameny. This certificate is awarded by a grateful nation in recognition of devoted and selfless consecration to the service of our country in the Armed Forces of the United States. Barack Obama, President of the United States.”
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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