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Frank Kameny, Lifelong Gay Rights Activist, Dies At 86

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Frank Kameny, shown here at the Youth Pride Day festival in D.C. in April, died at his Washington, D.C. home Oct. 11.
Elvert Barnes (http://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/5676159176/)
Frank Kameny, shown here at the Youth Pride Day festival in D.C. in April, died at his Washington, D.C. home Oct. 11.

Frank Kameny, a Washingtonian who's been called one of the fathers of the gay rights movement, has died at age 86.

Kameny was discharged from the Army Map Service for being gay in 1957, an event that would spark a lifelong struggle for gay rights, according to Associated Press. He protested his discharge and filed suit against the army, and his petition reached the Supreme Court. Although the nation's highest court declined to review the case, it was the first civil rights suit based on sexual orientation.

Kameny went on to found the Mattachine Society of Washington D.C., which would press militantly for the right of gays and lesbians to work for the federal government. In the 1960's, he picketed in front of the Pentagon and White House, and created the slogan "Gay is Good."

He was the first openly gay candidate for Congress, and helped convince the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of disorders in 1973.

Over the course of the next few decades, Kameny turned his focus to Washington D.C. He worked to overturn sodomy laws and oppose discrimination in the District based on homosexuality. His death from natural causes Tuesday coincided with a national celebration of gay rights: National Coming Out Day.

Correction: The original version of this story mis-identified the professional organization Kameny lobbied. He helped convince the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from a list of disorders.

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