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Mattachine founded 50 years ago

D.C. ‘homophile’ group remembered as first civil rights organization for gays



Frank Kameny, one of Mattachine’s founders, died last month, just prior to the organization’s 50th anniversary. The city staged a farewell for Kameny last week a the Carnegie Library. (Washington Blade file photo by Doug Hinckle)

Records kept by the late gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny show that Kameny and fellow activist and native Washingtonian Jack Nichols co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., on Nov. 15, 1961 as the city’s — and nation’s — first homosexual civil rights organization.

Kameny, then 36, and Nichols, 23, were joined by at least three others on that day at the group’s first official meeting, held in the Harvard Street, N.W., apartment of Earl Aiken, one of the group’s first members, according to information obtained by D.C.’s Rainbow History Project.

LGBT activists and Kameny’s friends and colleagues in D.C. and across the nation are scheduled to gather in Washington at the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill next Tuesday, Nov. 15, for a memorial service celebrating Kameny’s life and legacy. The gay rights leader died at his home in Washington on Oct. 11. Organizers say the gathering will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of Kameny and his gay rights colleagues’ founding of the Mattachine Society of Washington.

The Rainbow History Project reports that an example of the hostile climate the fledgling group was to face in its first few years of existence in the early 1960s surfaced three months before its official launch, when Kameny organized a preliminary meeting to discuss the need for forming a homosexual rights group.

When Kameny and others sat down at the start of that meeting, held at the Hay Adams Hotel on Aug. 1, 1961, Kameny quickly discovered the gathering had been infiltrated by Louis Fouchette, the head of the Perversion Section of the D.C. Police Department’s Morals Division.

“Fouchette was identified, exposed, and left the meeting,” Rainbow History Project reports in one of its papers on the Mattachine Society of Washington.

Kameny told the Blade years later that he and others attending the August 1961 meeting viewed Fouchette’s visit, and the fact that he learned of plans to form a gay group before it even held its first meeting, as a chilling reminder of the work that lay ahead for the group.

In part because Mattachine’s organizers knew that discovery by authorities, including police, of someone’s status as a gay person would almost certainly lead to the loss of their job, the group adopted a bylaw making it mandatory that all members except Kameny use a pseudonym to identify themselves publicly. The pseudonyms would also be used on Mattachine’s membership list.

Among those complying with this requirement were Mattachine members Nichols, who later went on to become an accomplished author, journalist and out gay activist; Robert King, Lilli Vincenz, Paul Kuntzler, Eva Freund; Ron Balin; and Jon Swanson, according to Rainbow History’s reports on the group.

Each of them played a key role in Mattachine Society of Washington’s groundbreaking work, including the group’s first-ever homosexual rights protest demonstrations in the 1960s at the White House, Pentagon, Civil Service Commission and other government buildings.

Kuntzler later co-founded the D.C. Gay Activist Alliance, which later became the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, and the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, two of D.C.’s leading LGBT advocacy organizations that continue to operate today.

Back in 1961, Kameny chose to use his real name in connection with the Mattachine Society of Washington because he already suffered what he believed to be the irreversible consequences surrounding his firing in 1958 from his job as a civilian astronomer at the U.S. Army Map Service after authorities discovered he was gay.

“He knew he was essentially blacklisted for life in his profession as an astronomer, where, at the time, everybody knew each other in that profession,” said author and Kameny biographer David Carter. “So he had nothing to lose.”

Carter, who interviewed Kameny extensively during the past several years, said Kameny told him he chose to be one of the few “out” gays at the time following his unsuccessful but highly acclaimed appeal of his firing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kameny wrote his own brief to the high court as a document known as a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari, which asked the court to take on his case. In 1961, the Supreme Court denied his petition and upheld a lower court decision that refused to back a Kameny lawsuit seeking to force the U.S. Civil Service Commission to overturn his firing.

The lawsuit and his petition to the Supreme Court marked the first known time a gay person had challenged the U.S. government policy of refusing to hire and automatically firing gay people from federal government employment in any capacity or position.

Kameny’s 61-page Supreme Court petition, which is now part of the Kameny Papers collection at the Library of Congress, is viewed today by historians as the first comprehensive gay rights manifesto in the United States.

Carter, who is writing Kameny’s biography, said the Supreme Court petition became the founding principles used by Mattachine Society of Washington to carry out its work calling for equality and non-discrimination for homosexuals in employment and a wide range of other areas.

Origin of ‘Mattachine’ name

Local activists commemorate the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Mattachine Society on Nov. 15, 1986. (Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle)

There were other Mattachine Society groups created by gays in other cities beginning in Los Angeles in 1950. But nearly all of them acted as clandestine groups seeking to promote a better understanding of homosexuals, with most agreeing with the then prevailing view by psychiatric professionals that homosexuality was a mental disorder.

The Mattachine name was first adopted in 1950 by pioneering gay rights activist Harry Hay, the lead founder that year in Los Angeles of the first such group. Hay said he took the name from a French medieval and renaissance group known as Société Mattachine, which operated within the royal court as court-jester type figures wearing masks to conceal their identity. In some cases the Mattachines were believed to have been given liberty to speak frankly to the ruling monarch on matters that others were forbidden to discuss.

Carter said Kameny favored using another name for the Washington group that boldly used the word homosexual in its title. He said Kameny told him he was outvoted by the other members, who thought “Mattachine” was a name widely recognized within the nation’s homophile movement.

While insisting on adopting Mattachine Society as its name, Carter and others familiar with the group said the members agreed to Kameny’s request that it remain independent of other Mattachine Society groups, with whose philosophy and tactics Kameny disagreed.

None of the other Mattachine Society groups, including those located in L.A., San Francisco, and New York, took on the role of a civil rights and civil liberties organization like the Mattachine Society of Washington did.

“They certainly were the first to take that position,” said Carter, in discussing Mattachine Society of Washington’s activist, civil rights stance. “And the second unique thing about them is their attitude or strategy. They took a militant approach toward achieving that goal, an unapologetic approach,” he said.

“It is time that a strong initiative be taken to obtain for the homosexual minority – a minority in no way different, as such, from other of our national minority groups – the same rights, provided in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, as are guaranteed to all other citizens,” the Mattachine Society of Washington said in an August 1962 statement.

“These include the rights to the pursuit of happiness and to equality of opportunity; the right, as human beings, to develop and achieve their full potential and dignity; and the right, as citizens, to be allowed to make their maximum contribution to the society in which they live – rights which Federal policy and practice now deny,” the statement says.

In what Carter and others following the LGBT rights movement say was a first of its kind development, the group launched a four-point campaign in 1962 calling for repeal of the U.S. Civil Service Commission’s policy barring gay employees, which it called unconstitutional; an end to the U.S. military ban on gay service members; an end to the federal government policy of denying security clearances for gays; and the repeal of state sodomy laws that made it illegal for consenting adults of the same sex to engage in private sexual relations.

Kuntzler said the group went one step further by taking what others in the homophile movement at the time considered a radical action. Following a heated debate among its members at an April 1965 meeting, Mattachine Society of Washington adopted a formal resolution declaring that homosexuality was not a mental disorder.

The resolution, introduced by Kameny, opened the way for the group to begin a national campaign to pressure the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its diagnostic manual as a disorder.

Kuntzler said he recalls members voted 27 to 5 to approve the resolution, with the group’s then president, Bob Belanger among those who voted against it.

“The Mattachine Society of Washington takes the position that in the absence of valid evidence to the contrary, homosexuality is not a sickness, disturbance or other pathology in any sense but is merely a preference, orientation, or propensity on par with and not different in kind from heterosexuality,” the resolution states.

Kuntzler also recalled that the group got an unexpected flurry of publicity in the summer of 1963 when then U.S. Rep. John Dowdy (D-Texas), who chaired the House committee overseeing D.C. affairs, called a public hearing on a bill he introduced to curtail the activities of the Mattachine Society of Washington.

The Washington Post reported in an Aug. 10, 1963 story that Dowdy became outraged when he learned that a D.C. government agency had granted Mattachine a license to solicit charitable contributions in the city as a fundraising tool. The Post story said Dowdy’s bill called for overturning the city’s approval of the group’s charitable solicitation license and called for barring the city from approving any future license to any organization whose existence threatened to harm “the health, welfare and morals” of the city.

Kameny drew widespread media coverage when he testified at the hearing in opposition to the bill and challenged Dowdy’s assumptions that homosexuality was a “perversion” harmful to society. A representative of the D.C. chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union also testified against the bill, saying it was unconstitutional because it would infringe on Mattachine’s First Amendment right of freedom of expression.

Kuntzler said that much to Dowdy’s horror, the testimony by Kameny and the ACLU official resonated with the public and media, prompting a Post editorial opposing the bill and calling Dowdy a “moralist.”

The bill eventually died in committee. The brouhaha surrounding its introduction and the hearing helped to boost the Mattachine Society’s message of equality and non-discrimination for gay people, Kameny and other members of the group concluded at the time.

The Mattachine Society of Washington became less active following the Stonewall riots in New York in 1969, which was considered a momentous development in the gay rights movement that led to the creation of a plethora of other gay groups, including D.C.’s short-lived Gay Liberation Front.

According to Kuntzler, nearly all of Mattachine’s small corps of remaining members devoted their time and energy in 1971 to Kameny’s historic run as the nation’s first known openly gay candidate for Congress. Kameny became one of five candidates competing for the newly created non-voting delegate seat in the House of Representatives to represent D.C. in Congress.

Mattachine members, among other things, organized a first-of-its-kind “gay” questionnaire for each of the candidates running in the race, asking them to state their views on gay-related issues, including whether they would support legislation to ban discrimination against homosexuals in employment.

All but Kameny ignored the questionnaire, Kuntzler said. But he said the questionnaire and the election-related work performed by Mattachine members laid the groundwork for the type of gay rights work assumed by the Gay Activists Alliance, which formed as the recognized successor to Mattachine Society of Washington immediately following Kameny’s run for Congress.

Kameny finished fourth in the election, receiving 1,888 votes or 11 percent of the total, Kuntzler recalls. In a development that surprised many and delighted LGBT activists, Kameny finished ahead of the Rev. Douglas Moore, the fifth place candidate who denounced homosexuality and gays as being “immoral” and a threat to the community.

“It was a very nice place to be,” said lesbian activist Lilli Vincenz, who said she joined Mattachine Society of Washington in 1962 after being discharged from the Women’s Army Corps, or WACs, on grounds of homosexuality. “I was glad to be a part of it.”

Vincenz was among many of the group’s early members who went on to successful professional careers in the D.C. area while they continued to participate in the LGBT rights movement. All of them switched to using their real names.

Eva Freund, who, like Vincenz and Mattachine member Nancy Tucker, became among the group’s first female members, continued to participate in LGBT-related causes. She currently serves as president of a D.C.-area information technology services company.

Vincenz received a doctorate degree in psychology and operated a therapist practice specializing in helping lesbian and gay clients. Kuntzler became an advertising executive for a non-profit association and his longtime domestic partner, Steven Miller, who also participated in Mattachine activities, became the owner of a successful court reporting business.

Tucker and Vincenz also became coordinators of a Mattachine newsletter project that led them to found an independent gay newspaper in the city in October of 1969 called the Gay Blade, which later evolved into the Washington Blade.



LGBTQ University of Maryland students prepare to celebrate Hanukkah

Eight-day festival to begin Thursday night



(Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A number of Hanukkah events for LGBTQ students will take place at the University of Maryland this week.

Queer Jewish students and allies are welcome to attend Crazy Cozy Chill Chanukah Celebration on Sunday at the University of Maryland Hillel. Hamsa, home to queer Jewish life on campus, hosted a study break with hot drinks, snacks and games and a chance to welcome Hanukkah early. 

The first night of Hanukkah is Thursday.

Chabad UMD is hosting a menorah lighting on Thursday in front of McKeldin Library and plans to mention the war between Israel and Hamas, according to Rabbi Eli Backman of Chabad UMD. The event is going to be a focus on the positivity and the message of the Hanukkah story.  

“We’ve been around for thousands of years and all those who’ve tried to make sure that we didn’t live to see the next generation (is) no longer here,” Backman said. “That message will really resonate at home for the holiday.”

The story of the Maccabees is one of the few stories where Jewish people fought, Backman said. In Jewish history, people don’t see a military response in many of the other holiday moments. 

“It should give us a boost of energy,” Backman said. “A boost of strength (and) a boost of hope.”

Part of the Hanukkah story’s message is that Jewish people were in a position that they needed to form a military to secure their borders, Backman said. And they succeeded. 

For some, celebrating Hanukkah depends on the people they’re around, Florence Miller, a sophomore English and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies who is Hamsa’s president, said.

Miller is agnostic and does not find themself to be a religious person, but the thing that has kept their Jewish faith is the people about whom they care are Jewish and the sense of community that comes from being Jewish.

“I just wanted to do a Hanukkah event,” Miller said. “It’s been a good refresher with how the semester has been.”

Miller last year attended a Hanukkah party and played a game of dreidel, a spinning top with four sides marked with a Hebrew letter. The people who were in attendance wanted to bet something, but the only thing they could find were pinto beans. 

“When I took them out of my pocket one got stuck in there,” Miller said. “I still have that bean.”

For some Jewish students it’s important to go to Hanukkah events like Hamsa’s celebration to be around like-minded Jewish people, Yarden Shestopal, a sophomore American Studies major, said. 

“Which is why I like Hamsa,” Shestopal said. “Since we’re all queer people or allies we kind of share that mentality of acceptance.”

Being part of the Jewish community at the University of Maryland has opened Shestopal up to how diverse the LGBTQ and Jewish communities are. Shestopal this year, however, debated whether or not to put his menorah up on the windowsill of his apartment because of the rise in anti-Semitism due to the war in Israel.  

“I’m pretty sure I am going to put the menorah in my window,” Shestopal said. “The only way to combat anti-Semitism is to stay visible.” 

Several University of Maryland students lived in Israel before or during their time at the university. 

Elisheva Greene, a junior animal science major, went to seminary, a school for women to learn about Torah, during the pandemic. Greene said celebrating Hanukkah while a war is happening is going to be a similar feeling. 

“I’m able to do what I can from over here by supporting my family and friends,” Greene said. “The biggest thing I can be doing is living my life as a Jewish person and showing that I express my Judaism and I’m not afraid.”

Greene recalled they could not go more than 1,000 feet from home for two months and Hanukkah took place during that time. While it was difficult, Greene said people still put their menorahs on their windowsill.  

“Knowing the resilience the Israelis have and the fact people like to show their Jewishness (is not) gonna stop me,” Greene said. “Like there’s a war going on but you’re gonna be a Jew and you’re gonna flaunt that.”

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District of Columbia

Hearing postponed for gay D.C. gym owner charged with distributing child porn

Prosecutors call for Everts to be held in jail until trial



Michael Everts will likely remain in jail until a Jan. 10 hearing in his case. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A detention hearing scheduled for Monday, Dec. 4, in which a judge would decide whether gay D.C. gym owner Michael Everts should remain in jail or be released while he awaits a trial on a charge of distribution of child pornography was postponed with no immediate date set to reschedule it.

However, records with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, before which the case is being held, show that Everts’s defense attorney later in the day on Dec. 4 filed a motion in which Everts waived his right to a detention hearing and requested that a preliminary hearing be scheduled on Jan. 10, 2024.

In his motion, defense attorney David Benowitz says the lead prosecutor with the Office of the U.S. Attorney for D.C. does not oppose this request. As of Tuesday morning, the magistrate judge presiding over the case had not ruled on Benowitz’s motion.

But an entry in the court record on  Wednesday, Dec. 5, states that Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey approved the motion and agreed to set the date for the preliminary hearing on Jan. 10 at 4 p.m. The court record shows that Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather will preside over the preliminary hearing, in which prosecutors must present evidence, sometimes through testimony by witnesses, that probable cause or sufficient evidence exists to proceed to a trial. Meriweather will issue a ruling on whether probable cause exists.

Everts has been held without bond since the time of his arrest on Nov. 29 on a single charge of distribution of child pornography following a joint D.C. police-FBI investigation that led to his arrest.

He has owned and operated the FIT Personal Training gym located at 1633 Q St., N.W., near Dupont Circle since its opening in 2002.

Court records show that Benowitz filed a motion on Dec. 3 seeking a one-day postponement of the detention hearing to give him time to review the evidence presented by prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office. But Benowitz’s second motion waiving Everts’s right to a detention hearing and calling for a preliminary hearing on Jan. 10 appears to have voided his first motion and will result in Everts being held in jail until at least the time of the preliminary hearing in January.  

“Mr. Everts has been advised of his rights under the Speedy Trial Act (“STA”) and agrees to toll the time under the STA until the next hearing in this matter,” Benowitz’s second motion states. 

Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey apparently agreed to the postponement, but as of Tuesday morning, court records showed a date for the preliminary hearing had not yet been posted on the court docket.

On Dec. 1, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jocelyn Bond, the lead prosecutor in the case, filed a 20-page Memorandum In Support of Pretrial Detention that describes the government’s evidence against Everts and argues strongly in favor of having Everts held in custody at least until the time of his trial.

“Distribution of Child Pornography is a crime of violence and there is no condition or combination of conditions that will reasonably assure the safety of children in the community – both in the physical world and online – if Mr. Everts is released,” the memorandum states.

The memorandum notes that Everts’s arrest came about after an employee at the gay and bi hookup site Sniffies alerted the FBI that a Sniffies user was exchanging messages with other users expressing an interest in images of underage boys for sexual gratification. A joint FBI and D.C. police investigation traced the messages to Everts, according to an arrest affidavit and the U.S. Attorney’s memo.

The affidavit and memo point out that an undercover D.C. police detective working with the FBI and posing as someone interested in underage boys contacted Everts through the Sniffies site and a social media messaging address of @ethaneffex. The undercover detective, who is identified in charging documents as the “online covert employee” or “OCE,” engaged in messaging with Everts that prompted Everts to send the OCE video and photo images of child pornography, the arrest affidavit and memo state.

The memo seeking pretrial detention for Everts says Everts went beyond just expressing interest in viewing or sending the OCE child porn videos or photos but also described his interest in interacting with and possibly having sex with underage boys he knew.

“On multiple occasions he discussed his sexual interest in actual children that he encountered in his life, particularly emphasizing his desire to sexually abuse Minor 1 and noting that he had surreptitiously recorded Minor 1 at the playground in the past,” the memorandum says.

“Not only did he send photos of these children to someone whom he had reason to believe also had a sexual interest in children,” the memo states, “but he sent multiple voice messages to the OCE reiterating his sexual interest in Minor 1 – as well as in Minor 2 and other unknown minors — and describing the specific sexual acts he wanted to engage in with these minors.”

The memo adds, “Only amplifying his danger to children, Everts then bragged about having previously engaged in sex with a minor and his willingness to sexually abuse a child as young as 10 years old.”

Benowitz, Everts’s attorney, didn’t immediately respond to a request by the Washington Blade for comment on the case and whether he or his client dispute any of the allegations against Everts brought by prosecutors.

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District of Columbia

‘Behind-the-scenes’ activist Paul Kuntzler marks 62 years in D.C.

Inspired by Kennedy, Michigan native played key role in early LGBTQ movement



Paul Kuntzler is the last surviving member of the original 17 members of the D.C. Mattachine Society. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

In reflecting on his many years of involvement in U.S. politics and the LGBTQ rights movement, Paul Kuntzler points out that Dec. 28 of this year will mark his 62nd year as a resident of Washington, D.C. And he also points out that two days before that, on Dec. 26, he will celebrate his 82nd birthday.

Those who have known Paul Kuntzler over the years say that while his is not a household name in politics and the LGBTQ rights movement, he has played a critical role as an everyday hero and behind-the-scenes organizer for the Democratic Party and the local and national LGBTQ rights movement.

Among other things, Kuntzler served as campaign manager for D.C. gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny’s 1971 role as the first openly gay candidate for the U.S. Congress when Kameny ran for the newly created position of non-voting Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives for D.C.

In his role as campaign manager, Kuntzler is also credited with arranging for more than a dozen volunteers from the then-Gay Activists Alliance and Gay Youth group of New York City to come to D.C. on a bus that the Kameny campaign paid for to help gather the needed 5,000 signatures to get Kameny’s name on the ballot.

“I knew how difficult that was going to be,” Kuntzler said. “And I recognized we were not going to do this all on our own,” adding that the gay volunteers from New York, who joined forces with local D.C. volunteers, obtained a total of 7,800 signatures of registered D.C. voters to get Kameny’s name on the ballot.

Although Kameny finished in fourth place in a six-candidate race, his run as the first openly gay candidate for the U.S. Congress drew national publicity, including support from actor Paul Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward, who made a $500 contribution to the Kameny campaign while they were performing at the time at D.C.’s National Theater.

Observers of the LGBTQ rights movement at that time considered Kameny’s candidacy an important development in the effort to advance LGBTQ rights both in D.C. and nationwide. 

“Looking back, that probably was one of the most significant things I did in my life,” Kuntzler said in recalling his role as Kameny’s campaign manager.

He says his involvement in politics began in the summer of 1960 in his hometown of Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., a Detroit suburb, when he co-founded the Grosse Pointe Young Democrats and served as a volunteer on the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy.

“I met JFK at the Detroit airport and shook his hand,” Kuntzler recalls while he joined a crowd of supporters welcoming Kennedy on his arrival for a campaign tour in Michigan. “It was Labor Day weekend – Sunday, Sept. 4, 1960,” Kuntzler said in demonstrating an amazing recall of dates and events.

Kuntzler, who traveled to D.C. to attend the Kennedy inauguration on Jan. 20, 1961, said the idealism of the Kennedy administration prompted him to move to D.C. one year later to become involved in politics and the fledgling gay rights movement.

“I met Frank Kameny at Lafayette Chicken Hut on Sunday, Feb. 25, 1962,” Kuntzler says in referring to the then-popular D.C. gay bar. “And he was then president of the Mattachine Society of Washington,” Kuntzler noted, which was the first significant gay rights group in D.C. that Kameny co-founded.

“He invited me to attend the next Mattachine Society meeting,” Kuntzler recalls. “So, on Tuesday, March 6, 1962, at Earl Aiken’s apartment on Harvard Street, I became the 17th member of the D.C. Mattachine Society.,” Kuntzler continued. “And at the age of 20, I was the only minor involved in the gay rights movement consisting of about 150 people in five American cities,” he said. “I’m the only one still living of the original 17.”

His membership in the Mattachine Society of D.C. was the start of Kuntzler’s 50-plus years of involvement in the local and national LGBTQ rights movement. He recalls that he helped make history when he joined Kameny and other members of the Mattachine Society in April of 1965 for the nation’s first gay rights protest in front of the White House.

Kuntzler said he brought with him a large poster-size sign he made reading, “15 Million Homosexuals Protest Federal Treatment.” He said Mattachine Society of D.C. co-founder Jack Nichols asked permission to carry that sign on the picket line in front of the White House. Kuntzler gave him permission to do so.

To this day, Kuntzler says, he has a large United Press International photo of Nichols carrying the sign with Kameny, lesbian activist Lilli Vincenz, and Kuntzler standing beside him with the White House as a backdrop.

In the following three decades or more, Kuntzler served as an organizer and founder of several LGBTQ organizations and projects while pursuing a work career as a manager for several organizations. He served from 1973 to 2007 as assistant executive director for advertising, exhibits and workshop sales for the D.C.-based National Science Teachers Association.

His many behind-the-scenes involvements included serving in 1975 as the first treasurer for the Gay Rights National Lobby, one of the first national LGBTQ rights organizations based in D.C. that later evolved into the Human Rights Campaign in 1980, for which he also served for a short time as treasurer. In 1979, Kuntzler became a co-founder of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, D.C.’s first LGBTQ Democratic organization.

Also in 1979, Kuntzler helped found the National Convention Project, an effort to elect openly gay delegates and secure a “gay rights” plank in the platform at the 1980 Democratic National Convention. The effort resulted in the election of about 100 openly LGBT delegates to the 1980 convention from states across the country, including D.C. and the adoption of an LGBT supportive plank in the Democratic Party’s platform at that time.

Kuntzler said he and the others working on the project, which he called a success, were deeply disappointed when then-Democratic President Jimmy Carter lost the November 1980 presidential election to Republican Ronald Reagan. But he said he was inspired to continue his work on behalf of the Democratic Party and LGBTQ rights issues over the next several decades.

The person most important in his life, Kuntzler said, was his domestic partner Stephen Brent Miller of 42 years who died in July 2004.

“Stephen and I met on Friday, March 30, 1962, at Lafayette Chicken Hut,” Kuntzler said. “I was sitting on the side and Stephen was sitting in the middle, and I think he sent me a beer and then came over and sat down and we talked,” Kuntzler recalls. “We had our first date on the second Sunday in April of 1962.”

The two went to brunch before going to see a movie and then took a bus to get to Frank Kameny’s house. It was a housewarming party of the house that Kameny had just secured a lease to rent for his residence and his gay rights endeavors. Miller, a professional stenographer who later started his own court reporting business, Miller Reporting, quickly took on the role of being the loving spouse to a committed activist, people who knew the couple have said.

Kuntzler said his attendance at the Human Right Campaign’s annual Washington dinner last month, which is one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ events, in which President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden spoke, was a further sign of progress for the LGBTQ rights movement as he sees it.

Asked if he has any advice for the LGBTQ community at this time, Kuntzler said, “I think we need to continue to be vigilant … We need to continue to be vigilant.”

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