Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gay Pioneer Kameny Won't Receive
2010 Medal of Freedom
(The trailblazer himself with one of his historic picket signs, that has been donated to the Smithsonian Institution.)

An important surviving founding father of the modern American gay movement, my friend Dr. Franklin E. Kameny, is someone I believe more than deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his decades of civic activism. I've blogged here, here, and here, urging the White House to bestow this honor on Frank.

Last August I nudged Obama's gay liaison, Brian Bond, to work on ensuring Frank received the medal while he's still alive and kicking. He replied:

Michael – sorry I couldn’t get back to you but wanted to assure you that the community is well represented. I am making sure to keep your recommendation of my very dear friend Frank for future awards. 

The White House yesterday announced this year's medal recipients and I am very disappointed that Frank's name was not on the list. It is my contention that support for honoring Frank this way enjoys wide backing from a large cross-section not just of the gay community, but also straight allies.

The Obama White House has invited Frank to a bill signing ceremony and other functions, and the president's advisers, including Veep Joe Biden, are well aware of his service to the country, and I had naively hoped 2010 would be the year this administration awarded the medal to Frank. Well, I was wrong.

One gay man, whose gayness is omitted from the announcement list, artist Jasper Johns, will be honored with a medal, and I laud the White House for including him this year.

However, there is one name on the list, that of former President George H.W. Bush, who could have been left off the list, thereby making room for Frank. I don't want to read too much into the decision that chose Bush, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was made to send a signal to the GOP leaders and voters who upended Washington's political landscape in the recent elections.

If Bond were known for actually engaging with the gay public on a regular basis, and explaining how White House decisions are made, I'd attempt to reach out to him for some answers as to why Frank is not receiving the Medal of Freedom this year.

Instead, I'm blogging about my disappointment and remain cautiously optimistic that the White House will wise up and finally get around to awarding Frank this civilian honor. He's more than earned it.

1 comment:

Ed Sikov said...

This administration is a complete disappointment. "Change?" Where? What? I have quit the Democratic Party in enraged disgust.