National LGBT Briefs: Orbit, Arthur and La Raza Launch

Asteroid named for Kameny, Bea Arthur Residence gets big boost and education campaign begins for LGBT Latinos

Compiled by Kelsey Brannan
Published on July 13, 2012, 2:25pm | Comments

Kameny Namesake Joins List of Heavenly Bodies

While the late gay-rights pioneer Frank Kameny – a D.C. local who died Oct. 11, 2011, at the age of 86 – may no longer be of this world, his namesake is now buzzing through space in an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, the Associated Press reports.

Gary Billings, an amateur astronomer in Canada, discovered the body, Minor Planet 40463, which will now be listed as Frankkameny by the Astronomical Union and the Minor Planet Center.

The honor is particular fitting in that Kameny earned master's and doctorate degrees in astronomy from Harvard University. He was putting that education to use for the Army Map Service in Hawaii in 1957 when he was instructed to return to D.C. after the government learned he was gay.

''I was out in Hawaii with a program to monitor an observation station,'' Kameny said in a 2006 interview. ''They phone me from Washington and said, 'Come back, they want to investigate you.' I said, 'The government sent me out here at a lot of taxpayers' expense. I will come back when I have finished this tour. You can tell the investigators to just sit there and wait.''

He was fired in December 1957. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management officially apologized to Kameny for that firing in 2009. The American Astronomical Society earlier this year awarded a certificate of appreciation to Kameny, which was accepted by longtime Kameny associate Charles Francis, cofounder of the Kameny Papers Project.

Ali Forney Center for LGBT Homeless Youth Recieves $3.3 Million 

New York's nonprofit affordable housing organization, the Cooper Square Committee, announced July 9 that the New York City Council has designated $3 million to renovate a building in Manhattan's East Village to serve as an 18-bed shelter and provide other services to LGBT homeless youth. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer added an additional $300,000 to the effort, as well.

The Bea Arthur Residence will be a project of Cooper Square and the Ali Forney Center, dedicated to ending LGBT youth homelessness. Arthur, knows for the TV shows Maude and the Golden Girls, as well as many other roles and appearances, was a supporter of the Ali Forney Center. When she died in 2008, she left $400,000 to the organization.

The Cooper Square announcement quoted Arthur from a 2005 interview, when she performed a fundraiser for the Ali Forney Center: ''These kids at the Ali Forney Center are literally dumped by their families because of the fact that they are lesbian, gay or transgender. This organization is saving lives.''

Campaign Launched for Latino LGBT Support

The National Council of La Raza announced the formation of a new campaign July 8 during the organization's – the country's largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization – annual conference in Las Vegas.

The public-education campaign, ''Familia es Familia,'' or ''Family is Family,'' involves more than 20 Hispanic organizations and is funded in part by Freedom to Marry.

In a release announcing the campaign, Freedom to Marry founder and President Evan Wolfson said, ''A growing majority of Latinos in this country know that every gay or lesbian person is part of someone's family – a son or daughter, brother or sister, a loved one – and the more conversations we have, family member to family member, the more support for the freedom to marry grows. Latino gay couples seek the freedom to marry to affirm and strengthen their love, their commitment, and their ability to take care of each other and their families; government should not be putting barriers in their way. Freedom to Marry is proud to be supporting the Familia es Familia campaign to lift up Hispanic voices and stories as together we make the case for ending the exclusion from marriage.''