Kameny presents award to Federal GLOBE

Distinguished Service Award for Federal Globe

Presented by GLAA co-founder Frank Kameny
Accepted by Federal GLOBE President Leonard Hirsch

GLAA 30th Anniversary Reception
Jurys Washington Hotel
Thursday, April 19, 2001

For me, on a very personal basis, presentation of this award is a profoundly meaningful occasion of very great satisfaction and deeply-felt joy. It represents formal public recognition of the passing of a torch which I lit and carried successfully to its first goal, a torch which seemed to flicker and fade for a while, and which was then brightly re-lit and is now being carried high by this awardee. And so I specifically requested the privilege of presenting this award, and my remarks will be not only historical but personalized as well.

In the briefest of summary and overview: Starting in 1950, and continuing until 1975, the Federal civil service had a policy of exclusion of gay people from Federal employment which was as rigorous as the current exclusion of gays from the military, and fully as ferociously enforced; in fact, even more so, because there were no Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue limitations; they pursued relentlessly and asked intensively. Many hundreds, and probably thousands of good, competent people lost jobs or were denied them or were deterred from applying or remaining. In the climate of the times, not one person stood up to them. In 1957 I became one of the victims of that policy, and became the first person of whom I know, who fought back. My personal fight ended in 1961, when the US Supreme Court not unexpectedly chose not to hear my case. But then, over a total of 18 years, employing every possible method of approach: litigation, legislation, negotiation, and demonstration -- I pushed the fight through other individuals and through the then formative Gay Movement, and with the assistance of the ACLU, until July 3, 1975, when, with advance notice to me, the Civil Service Commission abandoned and reversed its anti-gay policy.

But then things stopped. And for almost another 18 years, nothing at all happened. To my disappointment, not only did no flocks of openly gay Federal employees appear on the scene, but in fact, not even one gay person at all appeared openly on the government employment scene. [1] I suppose that stemmed from both the culture of the day, and from the continued existence of policies of denial of security clearances to gays -- policies which did not end abruptly as the civil service employment policy had, but which frittered away by attrition over the years -- and which left gay Federal employees continuingly intimidated and fearful.

And so it was with great satisfaction that I heard news. around 1992, of the formation of the Gay, Lesbian Or Bisexual Employees organization -- GLOBE, in acronym. Since that time, under the active aegis of GLOBE, the gay Federal employee community has literally blossomed far beyond anything that we even dared to dream in previous decades. Gay employees are not only merely tolerated as they were, grudgingly, after 1975, but are welcomed, endorsed, encouraged, and actively protected. Their presence is publicly celebrated at the highest levels. They have a seat at the table in every meaningful sense, in agency and department after agency and department. There is even a group at that last holdout bastion, the CIA, whose former Director, the late William Casey, is reliably reported to have been psychologically incapable of even uttering the word "homosexual" and who must be spinning in his grave.

The torch, which had flickered seemingly almost to extinction for some two decades after 1975, is now burning brightly and is being carried high and in style by our organizational awardee of this evening. Given that the Federal government is the employer-in-chief here in Washington, and represents our single major industry, GLOBE is certainly serving the community well -- both the gay community and the larger general community. Therefore it is with great pleasure and deep personal satisfaction that I present to GLOBE this well-earned and amply-deserved award for a decade of superb community service of enormous and continuing value. Thank You. Keep on.

1. Former GLAA President Craig Howell offers this correction: "As I told Frank afterwards, there were plenty of us openly gay federal employees after 1975. We just weren't organized. So, to say 'not even one gay person at all appeared openly on the government employment scene' between 1975 and 1992 is simply not true. Frank has forgotten how many of us took advantage of the freedoms he helped to secure."