Frank Kameny's Tuesday death at the age
of 86 is being mourned by gay rights groups and lawmakers.
Authorities believed Kameny
died in his sleep of natural causes in his Washington home. He
died on the day the country celebrates National Coming Out Day.
Kameny, who was fired in 1957 by the
United States government because he was gay, co-founded the
Mattachine Society of Washington, one of America's earliest gay
rights groups. He went on to coin the phrase “Gay is good.”
“Frank Kameny led an extraordinary
life marked by heroic activism that set a path for the modern LGBT
civil rights movement,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human
Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay rights advocate.
“From his early days fighting institutionalized discrimination in
the federal workforce, Dr. Kameny taught us all that 'Gay is Good.'
As we say goodbye to this trailblazer on National Coming Out Day, we
remember the remarkable power we all have to change the world by
living our lives like Frank – openly, honestly and authentically.”
Mike Thompson, acting president of the
Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), said the legacy
of Kameny's work lives on.
“Frank Kameny sparked national change
and set the example for gay and lesbian Americans to live their lives
openly and proudly. He taught us the power that our visibility and
stories have in changing hearts and minds. Today on National Coming
Out Day, we honor Frank's legacy not only by remembering this
pioneer, but by continuing his work to speak out and share our own
Chad Griffin, board president of the
American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the group challenging
the constitutionality of Proposition 8, California's gay marriage
ban, called Kameny an American hero.
“America has lost a hero today,”
Griffin wrote in a statement. “Out and proud, Frank Kameny was
fighting for equality long before the rest of us knew we could.
Because there was one Frank Kameny, trailblazing and honest enough to
speak out 50 years ago, there are now millions of Americans, coming
out, speaking out and fighting for their basic civil rights. His is
a legacy of bravery and tremendous impact and will live on in the
hearts and minds of every American who values equality and justice.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
added: “He turned his personal story of discrimination into action,
his encounter with prejudice into determination. Through his work,
he became a revered figure in the national LGBT movement; through his
achievements, America became a more equal, more compassionate
House calls Frank Kameny an American hero.)