One of the greatest and most steadfast pioneering advocates for the gay rights movement, Frank Kameny, died on Tuesday, October 11 at his home in Washington, D.C. He was 86. He appears to have died of natural causes. According to theWashington Blade:
Timothy Clark, Kameny’s tenant, said he found Kameny unconscious and unresponsive in his bed shortly after 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Clark called 911 police emergency and rescue workers determined that Kameny had passed away earlier, most likely in his sleep. Clark said he had spoken with Kameny shortly before midnight on the previous day and Kameny didn’t seem to be in distress.
Kameny was born on May 21, 1925 in New York City. He is a World War II veteran, having seen combat in Europe. After the war, Kameny earned a doctorate in astronomy from Harvard University and went to work for the Army Map service as an astronomer. He became a gay rights activist when he was fired by the Army in 1957 when they learned he was gay. At that time, gay people were prohibited from Federal employment due to a 1953 Executive order by President Eisenhower. In Joyce Murdoch and Deb Price’s book, Courting Justice: Gay Men And Lesbians V. The Supreme Court, Frank called his 1957 firing the spark which energized his long dedication to securing equality for all LGBT people:
“I just couldn’t walk away,” recalled Frank Kameny, a brilliant Harvard-educated astronomer who became nearly destitute after being fired from his government job in 1957. The phrase echoed through many interviews with gay people who fought against dreadful odds after losing a job, being embarrassed by a “sex crime” arrest or suffering some similar humiliation. 
“For the rest of my life, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself,” Kameny added. “I would be dead of stomach ulcers by now. There’s simply a burning sense of justice.”He immediately set about challenging the his firing and the federal ban, taking his case all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Because he acts as his own attorney, he became the first known gay person to file a gay-related case before the high court. In his petition before the court, Kameny let loose his full rhetorical powers which would  become a trademark throughout his life of activism:
…the government’s policies…are a stench in the nostrils of decent people, an offense against morality, an abandonment of reason, an affront to human dignity, an improper restraint upon proper freedom and liberty, a disgrace to any civilized society, and a violation of all that this nation stands for.
For full article: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2011/10/12/37802

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