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Posted at 08:09 PM ET, 05/09/2011

Two documents on gay rights added to Library of Congress display

In 2006 Frankli n E. Kameny, a pioneer gay rights activist, donated 50,000 letters, correspondence and testimony to the Library of Congress.

Those documents represented a hefty part of the history of the gay rights movement in the United States.

In recent days the Library placed two of Kameny’s documents into its ”Creating the United States” exhibition. They reflect some of the attitudes of the government in the 1950s and 1960s.


Mayor Adrian Fenty unveiled a street sign at 17th and R Streets NW dedicated to honor gay rights activist Frank Kameny. Kameny speaks to the crowd. (Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

In 1957 Kameny was fired from his job at the U.S. Army Map Service as a government astronomer because he was gay. One document is the petition Kameny wrote in 1961 to the U.S. Supreme Court saying he had been fired without cause. The Court rejected his petition.

The second document is a 1966 letter written by the chairman of the U.S. Civil Service Commission telling Kameny his firing was justified.

John W. Macy wrote: “Persons about whom there is evidence that they have engaged in or solicited others to engage in homosexual or sexually perverted acts with them, without evidence of rehabilitation, are not suitable for federal employment.”

“The letter is now called ‘The Revulsion Letter’ because Macy, who headed up Civil Service under Lyndon Johnson, said federal employees would feel revulsion if Kameny worked with them,” said Charles Francis, a founder of the Kameny Papers Project.

Francis said he was pleased with the two choices. “They are absolutely the best picks because they directly address issues” of the country’s founding documents, Francis said.

The Library regularly rotates documents from its long-term exhibits, mainly because of preservation needs, said a spokeswoman. The Kameny materials will be included until the end of October.

By  |  08:09 PM ET, 05/09/2011

 
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