Statement by NCLR Federal Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.

(San Francisco, CA, October 11, 2011)—One of the most prominent leaders of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality movement—Dr. Frank Kameny—passed away at his Washington D.C.-area home today. He was 86.

In 1957, Kameny was dismissed from his position as an astronomer in the Army Map Service because he was gay, motivating him at the time to become a leading voice in the movement for equality and justice. He protested his firing and appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, becoming the first known gay person to file a gay-related case before the high court.

Although the court denied his petition, the decision prompted Kameny to devote much of his life to LGBTQ advocacy.

Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.:

“Frank Kameny is among a small group of brave and uncompromising men and women without whom the modern civil rights movement for LGBTQ equality would have faltered. At a time when most lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals lived deeply shadowed and closeted lives, he stepped into the bright glare of public scrutiny and hostility and demanded respect and cultural evolution. It is fitting that his passing would happen on Coming Out Day. Were it not for his coming out, many of us would still be living a lie.”

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.