Frank Kameny, a Harvard university graduate with a Ph.D. in astronomy, was barred from federal government employment for his sexual orientation, he is being honored by the U.S. Department of Labor with an induction to its Hall of Honor June 23, in Washington, D.C.
The DOL established the Hall of Honor in 1988 to honor Americans whose distinctive contributions in the field of labor elevated working conditions, wages and overall quality of life of America’s working families, according to an agency spokesperson.
In 1958, U.S. Civil Service Commission investigators asked Kameny if he was homosexual. He told them it was none of their business and he was subsequently fired. At the time of his dismissal, Frank Kameny worked for the U.S. Army Mapping Agency, a legacy agency of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Kameny fought the injustice, eventually taking his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied his petition in 1961.
“Frank Kameny dedicated his life to ending discriminatory employment practices based on sexual orientation,” said Tish Tucker, deputy director of NGA’s corporate communications and senior champion for NGA’s LBGTA Alliance. “He showed remarkable courage and integrity by challenging the misguided cultural beliefs of that time that gay people shouldn’t serve in the federal government.”
The cultural consequences of Kameny’s activism and inspiration on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community is profound according to Heather Hoipkemier, NGA’s co-lead for the LGBTA Council.
For example, in 1995, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 12968, ending the ban on security clearances for gay workers.
“That wouldn’t have happened without the activism Frank Kameny began,” said Hoipkemier. “Without Frank’s efforts, the acceptance of the LGBT community within the IC [intelligence community] wouldn’t be where it is today.”