The U.S. Department of Labor has announced it will induct the late gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny into its Hall of Honor at a ceremony in Washington on June 23 in recognition of his decades of work to end discrimination in the federal workplace.
In a May 27 statement, the department recounted Kameny’s work in Washington on behalf of the rights of LGBT people after government officials fired him from his job as an astronomer at the U.S. Army Map Service in 1958 when they discovered he was gay.
“Frank Kameny was a groundbreaking leader in the LGBT civil rights movement,” said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez in the statement. “He fought tirelessly to live out his truth and to end workplace discrimination,” Perez said. “At the Department of Labor we work every day to carry on his legacy and ensure that all workers, no matter who they are or who they love, have equal access to opportunity.”
With a doctorate degree in astronomy from Harvard University, Kameny became the first known gay person to fight his dismissal on grounds of his sexual orientation. He appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to consider it on the merits, leaving in place the then Civil Service Commission’s ban on federal employment of homosexuals.
“The setback led him to become a co-founder of the first gay rights organization in Washington, D.C., and began his tireless fight to force the nation’s largest employer – the federal government – to end discrimination in its employment practices based on sexual orientation,” the department’s statement says.
The induction ceremony for Kameny, who died in 2011 at the age of 86, is scheduled to take place at the Department of Labor’s Francis Perkins headquarters building in Washington. Hundreds are expected to attend and hear “remembrances and tributes by honored speakers and guests,” the statement says.