December 27, 2012 at 2:30 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Year in review: Kameny burial delayed indefinitely
Frank Kameny gravesite, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

More than a year after gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny died in his Washington home at the age of 86, an urn bearing his ashes remains in storage at D.C.’s historic Congressional Cemetery.

News of what became an indefinite delay in the burial of Kameny’s ashes at the cemetery surfaced in March, when a cemetery official said a March 3 burial ceremony had been abruptly cancelled due to an estate related dispute.

Patrick Crowley, the then interim senior manager of Congressional Cemetery, said the dispute was between Kameny’s estate, which has legal control over the ashes, and the D.C. gay charitable group Helping Our Brothers and Sisters (HOBS), which owns the burial site.

The estate is under the control of Timothy Clark, the heir and personal representative, or executor, of the estate.

Both sides have acknowledged that the dispute is over a disagreement about how to transfer ownership of the cemetery plot from HOBS, which bought it earlier this year, to the Kameny estate.

HOBS executive director Marvin Carter has said HOBS is willing to sell the plot to the estate at the price the group paid for it. The estate, through one of its attorneys, said HOBS bought the plot through donations from members of the LGBT community who knew and admired Kameny and HOBS should transfer the title to the plot to the estate rather than sell it.

“The estate of Franklin Kameny is currently in negotiations in an effort to settle outstanding matters related to the estate,” said estate attorney Glen Ackerman in a statement in October. “We cannot comment on these negotiations or the status of the various matters as doing so may compromise the progress that has been made thus far. All involved are hopeful that resolution may be reached in the near future.”

In a separate statement Carter said, “HOBS is working diligently and in good faith to resolve all issues concerning the plot at Congressional Cemetery and the final burial of Frank’s ashes at the cemetery in a manner and under circumstances that will protect and advance Frank’s reputation in and contributions to the LGBT community.”

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

  • What happened to the donations intended for Kameny’s burial? Was it too little?

    If HOBS’ donations did not fully cover the cost charged by Congressional, why doesn’t HOBS and the Estate just appeal for more donations to fully cover the cost and transference of the grave site to Kameny’s Estate?

  • Frank Kameny would be disgusted with how the estate has been handing all this. Suing people who helped keep him from losing his home, trying not to pay back loans made by a freind, and trying to trademark "Gay Is Good". His estate seems to be tarnishing his reputation rather than protecting it. All this leads me to wonder whether the estate is trying t protect Kameny's image or taking advantage for their own agenda and perhaps financial gain.

    Also the Blade should should follow the normal media practice of indicate their relationship to the Attorney handling the Kameny Estate.

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