November 15, 2012 at 10:51 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Estate to create Kameny Foundation
Frank Kameny, gay news, Washington Blade

Frank Kameny died last year. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The estate of the late gay rights leader Frank Kameny is taking steps to create a non-profit foundation to promote LGBT rights causes, provide scholarships to LGBT young people and establish guidelines for using Kameny’s “Gay is Good” slogan, according to an attorney representing the estate.

“The estate is in the process of organizing the Franklin E. Kameny Foundation for the purpose of preserving Dr. Kameny’s legacy and promoting public awareness of the need for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equal rights,” said attorney Glen Ackerman.

The announcement of the creation of the Kameny Foundation came less than a week after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a preliminary denial of an application by the Kameny estate for a trademark to restrict the use of the “Gay is Good” slogan, which Kameny coined in 1968 to promote gay rights causes.

Several gay activists have raised objections to the idea of placing a trademark on the well-known slogan, saying Kameny intended the slogan to be used by the LGBT community without restrictions.

In a written notice, which is part of the public record, a USPTO official said the trademark application failed to properly demonstrate how the phrase would be used in interstate commerce, as required under the U.S. trademark law.

A USPTO spokesperson told the Blade the trademark law has been interpreted broadly to allow non-profit organizations to obtain trademarks for non-commercial use as long as such organizations engage in activities or provide services that cross state lines and fall under the definition of “commerce.”

The estate has six months to revise and resubmit its application under USPTO rules.

Ackerman said the Kameny estate is “committed to working with” the USPTO to obtain a trademark for the Gay is Good slogan.

According to Ackerman, the estate will or has invited at least six prominent gay rights leaders or academic experts to serve on the Kameny Foundation’s board of directors. Among them, he said, are Christopher Dyer, former director of the city’s Office of GLBT Affairs; Charles Francis, founder of the Kameny Papers Project, which facilitated the sale and transfer of most of Kameny’s historic papers and other items to the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution’s American History Museum; Timothy Patrick McCarty, lecturer and director of the Human Rights and Social Movement Program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government; Richard Rosendall, longtime D.C. gay rights advocate and an official with the Kameny Papers Project; and Joe Solmonese, former executive director of the Human Rights Campaign.

He said Timothy Lamont Clark, whom Kameny named in his will as his heir and the executor of his estate, will also serve on the foundation board along with Ackerman’s law firm partner, J. Max Barger, the estate’s legal representative.

Ackerman said the foundation would be charged with establishing guidelines for use of the Gay is Good slogan by organizations and individuals working to advance LGBT equality.

Dyer, who called the creation of the Kameny Foundation a “great idea,” said he was uncertain whether other work-related commitments would allow him time to serve on the foundation’s board. He said he was troubled over a dispute between the estate and the local group Helping Our Brothers and Sisters, which has resulted in a delay in the burial of Kameny’s ashes, and isn’t inclined to join the board until the dispute is resolved.

Rosendall said he has declined the estate’s invitation to join the foundation board. The others named as possible board members couldn’t immediately be reached.

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

  • Defame and sue people, then invite them to serve on your foundation board. Yeah, that’ll work.

  • Frank Kameny will always be an important historical figure and LGBT hero for millions of LGBT Americans and LGBT people around the world.

    Past, settled distractions, as well as dilution of Kameny’s unambiguous, simple message, don’t serve his memory and our larger cause well.

    I think it would be helpful if our current LGBT heroes come together and take the high road to continue honoring Kameny’s memory and his life’s work.

    All LGBT people ought act as good as Frank Kameny knew us to be.

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