A handful of gays responded very favorably to my effort in recent days to build support and awareness about pressuring the White House to award movement icon Frank Kameny the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I asked what they thought of organizing on Frank's behalf, and their fabulous replies are below.
If you also believe the White House needs to commit to make Frank a recipient of this award the next time they are bestowed, please blog about it, ask friends to support the campaign, lobby Gay Inc groups to get involved or send me your short quote for another roundup of statements from community folks.
Got other ideas to make the award a reality? Let's hear them. It's going to take lots of creativity, fierce persuasion and a diverse coalition of advocates to succeed.
Here are the statements of assorted backers:
"I support this idea completely. There is no other gay activist more worthy of this highest of national honors. What a terrific front page picture it would make, seeing President Obama place the prestigious award on Frank Kameny, for his decades of self-less civic service to America. Frank's more than earned the honor. Let's make it happen this year."
Founder and editor
Seattle Gay News
"When Frank Kameny first stood up for his rights in the late 1950’s, he stood up for all of us, and the fight that he helped to ignite more than fifty years ago is still our fight today.
"There has been so much progress toward LGBT equality since then, it is sometimes hard to imagine the courage and vision it took to do what he did: he spoke up, organized, took to the streets and also took his challenge to the Supreme Court.
"At Lambda Legal, we know what it takes to fight discrimination in the courts, and we honor his legacy. Those of us in the LGBT rights movement owe him a great deal of gratitude and respect – and the country owes him that, as well, for insisting that we live up to our ideals as a nation.
"I urge the president to award Dr. Kameny the Medal of Freedom – he stood up for freedom for us all."
"The more I think about it, the more inspired I become to help you with this campaign.
"Did you know that Frank was not invited to the White House LGBT reception in June? He called Brian Bond, and Brian actually told him that they were not inviting him because there were only so many slots and they needed to invite people who had not come before, but they had other plans for him! Frank was very disappointed.
"I was amazed to see this kind of nonchalance with the Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King of the LGBT movement. Please visit the Library of Congress' exhibition "Creating the United States". Frank's original petition to the Supreme Court (1961) is in a glass case there, now, along with suffragettes and African Americans trying to register to vote in Selma."
Founder, Republican Unity Coalition & Kameny Papers
"I would certainly support your effort to get President Obama to award Frank Kameny the Medal of Freedom.
"Frank Kameny is an important and courageous hero of the struggle for LGBT equality in America. He was the first gay American to take a case to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking fair treatment for gay federal employees, and was an important organizer of the early efforts to create a political infrastructure for our community. His advocacy work now stretches over 60 years, and laid the foundation for many of the most important accomplishment of the movement for LGBT rights."
Professor, NY Law School
Co-Author, Sexuality Law (Carolina Academic Press, 2010).
"'One man with courage is an army.' This saying sums up Franklin Kameny's life in a nutshell. At a time when nobody stood up for the rights of America's gay and lesbian citizens, Dr. Kameny rose to the task. Faced with daunting odds, he persevered. While others contributed over the years to the goal of making the Constitution apply equally to all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation, Dr. Kameny was the spearhead who made it all possible.
"Few people are as deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom as Dr. Franklin Kameny."
President, Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty
"Good campaign. Very worthy. Happy to oblige Michael.
"Frank Kameny is one the world's great pioneers for LGBT freedom and equality. His many years of selfless devotion to overcoming homophobia have earned him respect and admiration among LGBT human rights defenders across the globe. He is a deserving and worthy recipient of the Medal of Freedom."
Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation