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Frank Kameny, American Gay Rights Pioneer, Dies at 86



Frank Kameny, a co-founder of the Mattachine Society of Washington and one of the leading activists of the modern gay rights movement, died Tuesday night at home, as a result of natural causes.

Kameny passed away on National Coming Out Day, a fitting exit for the courageous trailblazer. He was found in his bed by Timothy Clark, a roommate, according to the Washington Blade.

A World War II veteran, Kameny — who possessed a Harvard doctorate in astronomy — was discovered to be gay while serving as a civilian astronomer in the Army’s Map Service in 1957. Consequently, he was discharged, but fought back and took his case to the United States Supreme Court. Although the Court declined to hear his case in March 1961, Kameny was the first gay person to advance the cause of gay rights to the nation’s highest court.

Coining the iconic statement “Gay is Good,” Kameny fought to advance gay rights for the next 50 years.

Kameny’s work, fearless and persistent, possessed such audacity in retrospect that his actions can be defined as literally breathtaking. Kameny even inspired to provoke FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, and placed Hoover on the Mattachine Society’s mailing list. Hoover, considered then and now to be one of the most infamous powerful figures in the closet, sent agents to Kameny’s apartment, ordering him to remove Hoover from the mailing list, according to Randy Shilts, who reported Kameny’s audacious actions extensively in Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military.

Shilts wrote that Kameny had three goals after founding the Washington, D.C. Mattachine Society in 1961 and they were, “to end the federal government’s ban on gay civil servants, to end discrimination against homosexuals seeking security clearances for government work and end the ban on gays serving in the military.”

He would live to witness most of these goals realized, and then some.

Kameny would organize and lead many firsts, paving the way for a new gay America in the post-Stonewall era. Along with Barbara Gittings, a lesbian activist, they organized the first gay rights picket at the White House in 1965. Later, Kameny would also organize the first pickets at the State Department and the Pentagon.  These signs, along with more than 70,000 of Kameney’s letters, documents and memorabilia, now belong to the Smithsonian Museum and have been displayed during recent years.

By the early 1970s Kameny would lead the Washington-based Gay Activists Alliance. He was frequently quoted in the media on security clearance, employment and military discrimination practices, which would precipitate phone calls from persons in need of assistance. Air Force Sergeant Leonard Matlovich would make one of those calls to Kameny in March, 1974. Matlovich, the first active duty person to openly declare his homosexuality, with Kameny at his side, would tell his story to the country, achieving the first wave of national media coverage about discrimination against gay service members in American history.

This writer was under investigation for being a homosexual in the U.S. in March 1974, while stationed at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts. Frank Kameny would be the first gay activist I would ever speak to and advised my ACLU attorneys on how to handle the Army’s criminal charges against me. In my personal papers, I have written correspondence between my lawyers and Frank Kameny. Little did I know in 1974, when I thought my entire life was falling apart, that Frank Kameny was not only an adviser on my case, but had been working on these issues for nearly 20 years. I called Frank Kameny and met with him when I traveled to Washington, D.C. in May 1975 when the Army retaliated against me by assigning me to “cook school,” although I was cleared of all gay-related “crimes.”

Accolades for Kameny and his pioneering gay rights work have poured forth in the announcement of his passing.

Joe Solmonese, the president of Human Rights Campaign issued the following statement,

“Frank Kameny led an extraordinary life marked by heroic activism that set a path for the modern LGBT civil rights movement. From his early days fighting institutionalized discrimination in the federal workplace Dr. Kameny taught us 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.”

Richard Socarides, the first White House gay and lesbian liaison during the Clinton Administration, said to Metro Weekly, “Frank was such a brave person.  To do what he did when he did it.  A shining example for us all.  An amazing, inspirational figure, who stands out among the giants of our movement.”

Bob Witek, who is managing Kameny’s personal papers told Metro Weekly, “Frank…truly, truly, was a lifelong lesson in being principled.  It’s just an amazing gift — an annoying gift. All of us have our doubts; Frank didn’t have a one. If he did, he didn’t tell anyone.”

On June 24, 2009 Kameny received a formal letter of apology from the federal government that called his firing for being gay, “a shameful action.” On June 10th a Washington, D.C. street between R and Q on 17th Street was dedicated as “Frank Kameny Way NW.” Kameny was in attendance at the White House signing of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) in December 2010.

Witnek announced that a public memorial for Kameny will likely be held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Washington Mattachine Society on November 15.


(Image of Frank Kameny courtesy of journalist Rex Wockner.)



Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.

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‘I Don’t Want Reality’: Senate Republican Explodes Over Origin of Concept of Race – Calls to Teach ‘Jesus Loves Me’ Instead



U.S. Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) exploded in a committee hearing on child care on Wednesday after he introduced a book designed to help children understand race, and declared he opposes socialism and wants schools to teach about Jesus Christ instead.

Sen. Mullin, a former U.S. Congressman who once told a House Democrat to “shut up,” began by explaining how expensive it is for private companies to set up child care – the topic of the hearing – but quickly transformed the hearing into one on race, socialism, and religion.

He wove a web that started with his concerns over “federalizing” education, which he declared is socialism. He then attacked the committee chairman, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who heads the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), for being a “self-declared democratic socialist.” That led to his claim that the book he opposes, “Our Skin: A First Conversation on Race,” would be taught nationwide.

Sen. Mullin said he opposes the book because it teaches young children that the concept of race, especially the white race, was created by white people to place themselves above other people with different skin – which has been documented in numerous studies, reports, articles, and books.

READ MORE: DeSantis Kicks Off Presidential Campaign Tour With Claim Teachers Are ‘Forcing’ Students to Pick Pronouns

Senator Mullin, who supports a federal vigilante “Don’t Say Gay” bill,  tried to get members of the panel to support his desire for schools to teach about Jesus instead.

“I have a book here in here in front of me called ‘Our Skin,'” Mullin told the committee, “and I’m going to read exactly what this book says. You guys might find it interesting. ‘A long time ago, way before you were born, a group of white people made up an idea called race. They sorted people by skin color and said that white people were better, smarter, prettier, and they deserved more than everybody else.’ This would be taught if we socialized our pre-K system, this would be taught.”

“How about we teach Jesus Loves Me?” Mullin demanded. “How about how about this? And teaching ‘Jesus Loves the Little Children.’ The lyrics go, ‘Red and yellow, black and white. They’re all precious in our sight.’ Now, which one would you think would be better? I’ll ask everybody on the panel, which is better to teach? This, that is a story that was made up to teach kids, three year olds who have no idea what race is.”

“Now all of a sudden being taught that white people said this as a truth, someone pointed me that this being a truth, that white people developed race, that white people develop that. That all of a sudden that was our word that we developed. By the way, I’m Cherokee, Native American. I think we have experienced a little bit of racism before in my life,” Mullen said.

READ MORE: ‘Will Make a Great Trial Witness’: Experts Thrilled Jack Smith Is Investigating Trump’s Firing of Election Security Expert

“So I ask everybody on the panel, which one is better to teach? This,” referring to the book he had brought, “or the ‘Jesus Loves Me’ lyrics? Ma’am. I’ll start on here.”

“I think it’s important to teach that all children are seen and valued for who they are,” one panelist told Sen. Mullin. He was not pleased.

Another panelist who appeared to agree with Sen. Mullin on teaching Jesus responded, “It is important that we teach Jesus. Jesus is what we teach. But the reality is –” she said before being interrupted by Mullin.

“I don’t want reality,” Mullin proclaimed, which evoked immediate laughter.

“Got it on tape,” one person announced.

“I misspoke,” Mullin claimed.

Watch portions of Mullin’s remarks below or at this link.


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DeSantis Kicks Off Presidential Campaign Tour With Claim Teachers Are ‘Forcing’ Students to Pick Pronouns



Governor Ron DeSantis kicked off his official presidential campaign tour on Tuesday, traveling to Iowa after announcing last week he was launching a White House run. On Wednesday, the Republican bragged to GOP voters that in Florida he recently signed a bill into law banning teachers from forcing children to pick pronouns, insisting it is happening in other states.

“It is wrong for a teacher to tell a student that they may have been born in the wrong body, or that their gender is a choice,” DeSantis announced.

“We don’t allow this in the state of Florida, and we actually just signed legislation protecting students from having teachers force them to pick pronouns, which they are doing in some parts of this country, at [a] very, very young age. We’re not competing in the ‘pronoun sweepstakes.’ We’re going to have school just like school’s been, from time in memoriam [sic], we’re not going to do all this other stuff,” he declared.

READ MORE: ‘Will Make a Great Trial Witness’: Experts Thrilled Jack Smith Is Investigating Trump’s Firing of Election Security Expert

While DeSantis is insistent that teachers are forcing very young students to pick pronouns, NCRM found no news reports supporting that claim.

We did find several news reports of teachers suing for not wanting to use a child’s preferred pronoun, which are issues for the courts.

We did find one report of a teacher who allegedly insisted on calling a 9-year old girl who identifies as a girl a boy, and the parents are suing.

News12 on Long Island, New York in March reported, “the lawyer representing the girl’s family…says the student was bullied and had suicidal feelings.”

“She says the teacher told the student to ‘try being gay.’ The teacher is also accused of calling the girl a male name.
‘The teacher had some kind of agenda to have these students have alternate sexual preferences or gender identities they may or may not have had,'” the attorney said.

READ MORE: ‘It Has to Be Done’: These Are the House Republicans Open to Firing Kevin McCarthy as Speaker

In April, Colorado’s KRDO reported, “During the last Colorado Springs School District 11’s board meeting, officials tabled a controversial pronoun policy that would prevent educators from asking students their preferred pronouns. While the policy isn’t in effect, some teachers are concerned about how it would hinder them inside the classroom.”

Watch DeSantis below or at this link.


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‘Will Make a Great Trial Witness’: Experts Thrilled Jack Smith Is Investigating Trump’s Firing of Election Security Expert



U.S. Dept. of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith has subpoenaed former Trump administration staffers possibly involved in the firing of Chris Krebs, a top cybersecurity official who had published a report calling the 2020 presidential election “the most secure in American history,” just days after the election, infuriating then-President Donald Trump.

The New York Times reports the special counsel’s investigators have “been asking witnesses about the events surrounding the firing” of Krebs (photo), who was appointed by Trump to the newly-created position of Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, part of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security.

Krebs was fired by Trump on November 17, 2020 after tweeting that election fraud claims were bogus: “59 election security experts all agree, ‘in every case of which we are aware, these claims either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent,’” according to The Washington Post.

READ MORE: ‘Sure Wasn’t by Drag Queens’: DeSantis Slammed for Ignoring Florida Mass Shooting That Included Children

“Krebs’s statement amounted to a debunking of Trump’s central claim that the November election was stolen,” The Post reported at the time.

The New York Times on Wednesday reports the Special Counsel’s investigators “appear focused on Mr. Trump’s state of mind around the firing of Mr. Krebs, as well as on establishing a timeline of events leading up to the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, 2021. The latest subpoenas, issued roughly two weeks ago, went to officials in the personnel office, according to the two people familiar with the matter.”

But national security and civil liberties journalist Marcy Wheeler asserts the Special Counsel’s efforts go further.

“I think it likely erroneous to imagine that Jack Smith is getting into Chris Krebs’ firing JUST to get to Trump’s mindset,” Wheeler tweeted. “He fired Krebs for doing something his Admin had specifically bought off on. It was a necessary part of the plot.”

“So,” Wheeler adds, “1) Trump fires Krebs for saying the election was fair 2) Trump fires Esper for saying he couldn’t invoke the Insurrection Act,” referring to then-Trump Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

“Then he sought about sowing an insurrection based on claims the election wasn’t fair,” she notes.

RELATED: ‘Fired for Telling the Truth to the American People’: Legal Experts Blast Trump for Firing Top Cybersecurity Chief

MSNBC’s Steve Benen agrees, writing: “Presumably, pulling on this thread would also offer investigators additional evidence that the then-president was presented with the truth by his own team, even as he pushed his anti-election lies.”

Andrew Weissmann, the former FBI General Counsel who spent 20 years at DOJ, heralded the Special Counsel’s investigation into the firing of Krebs.

“A very natural thing for Jack to examine as part of plot to overthrow the election. AND Krebs will make a great trial witness for govt.,” Weissmann tweeted.


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