First, DADT gets repealed. Then Obama says he wont defend DOMA. Now the Library of Congress has added two key documents in the struggle for gay rights to its popular Creating the United States exhibit. Sure, theyre already archiving all our breathless tweets about our day-to-gay-day and everything about and by the Beibs, but this is another level. Whos got Pride? The US Governments got Pride! Okay okay, overstated, yes. Weve still got a long way to go for full equality, but an exhibition like this shows just how far weve come.
Joining documents on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights framing them as living, breathing instruments to the advancement and evolution of our country are a 1961 petition to the Supreme Court by pioneering gay rights activist Frank Kameny (pictured left) in which he argued that his firing by the Armys Map Service was an affront to human dignity (sound familiar?) and U.S. Civil Service Chairman John W. Macy, Jr.'s infamous 1966 letter to The Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. in which he claimed revulsion as grounds for justified LGBT discrimination in the Civil Service, a key piece of evidence in the 2010 case against Proposition 8. Seen by more than 1.5 million people since it opened three years ago, this exhibit is no small potatoes.
Telling Americas story and creating a more perfect union are impossible without sharing these testaments to our nations gay civil rights story," says Bob Witeck, a co-founder of Kameny Papers Project, donor of the letters. Its the first time the history of gay and lesbian Americans has been recognized on such an official national and institutional level. The two documents are displayed accompanying the first rendition of the Constitution for blind readers; a suffragists scrapbook with material about Susan B. Anthony; and a drawing of African-Americans registering to vote on the steps of the Selma, AL courthouse.
To riff on Philadelphias popular tourism slogan, nows the time to get your history and your nightlife gay. Capital Pride (www.captialpride.org) kicks off June 2 through 12 with a series of panels, parades, and of course parties. Save on lodging with a room at one of seven Kimpton properties (www.kimptonhotels.com) my fave is the '30s French Moderne styled Hotel Palomar using its fifth-annual Summer of Pride package, which includes a 15 percent discount on best available rate for deluxe accommodations, a $25 dining credit, and a Pride-themed welcome gift. Valid from Thursday to Sunday through September 5; code PRIDE.
Creating the United States is on view through October 2011 in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. Click here to plan your visit and check out our Washington DC Travel Guide for general trip-planning info.