Library of Congress Displays Pioneering Gay Rights Petition

In 1957, Frank Kameny was fired as a government astronomer because, a 1966 letter from the head of the U.S. Civil Service Commission under President Lyndon B. Johnson explained, his homosexuality caused “revulsion of other employees.”  Displaying the tenacious ferocity he still shows now at age 85, Kameny reacted by petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court for redress.

That petition is currently on display at the Library of Congress, as part of its ongoing “Creating the United States” exhibit tracing the evolution of the nation’s founding documents and legal frameworks.  The current exhibit also displays the federal government’s 1966 response.  If you’re in Washington, D.C., the display is in the Southwest Gallery, on the second floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building on 1st Street, S.E.  These particular documents are expected to be on display for approximately four months.

If you can’t get to D.C. (or even if you can), there’s a treasure trove of Kameny papers online, at http://www.kamenypapers.org/.  In 2007, Kameny donated 50,000 items to the Library of Congress, documenting over 50 years of the gay rights movement.  Many of these documents and pictures are available at this website.

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