R.I.P. Frank Kameny, gay rights pioneer

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October 13, 2011 | 2:17 pm
(Updated: October 13, 2011 | 2:32 pm)

Frank Kameny – a gay activist who fought for justice for lesbians and gays from the dark days of obscurity to our first taste (just a taste) of equality today – died this week.

Kameny was 86. He launched the first civil rights case based on sexual orientation in the 1950s – which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. It all started because he was fired from his government job on account of his “homosexuality” (the word gay still meant “carefree” to most people then).

That turned the government astronomer into a political force to be reckoned with.

He later co-founded the Mattachine Society, an early lesbian and gay rights group that grew to be the dominant, and highly-disciplined political voice of lesbians and gays before the Stonewall Riots shifted the spotlight to younger and more vocal activists.

Here’s Rachel Maddow discussing Kameny’s legacy:

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