Senator Edward M. Kennedy – a champion for equality since 1962 – died late Tuesday night at his home in Cape Cod at the age of 77. Kennedy was diagnosed with brain cancer in May 2008 and had been battling the disease ever since.
LGBT people and national organizations are now mourning the loss of one of the community’s fiercest allies.
GLAAD's incoming president, Jarrett Barios, reflected on Sen. Kennedy's legacy as an advocate for LGBT equality in a statement released today:
"It is impossible to fully describe the transformative impact of Ted Kennedy in the Senate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. From the outset, he valued our contributions and supported our equality. In those early years, his support may have turned heads but didn't dampen his support--and eventually helped change hearts and minds about LGBT equality in the Senate and around the country."
President of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Joe Solmonese, also noted Senator Kennedy’s significance to the LGBT community in a statement:
The loss to our community is immeasurable. There was no greater hero for advocates of LGBT equality than Senator Ted Kennedy.
HRC went on to report recent legislation that the Senator supported in his devotion to total equality:
Senator Kennedy has been an unwavering supporter of the LGBT community, leading the charge on important legislation like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act and forcefully opposing discriminatory proposals, including the Defense of Marriage Act and the Federal Marriage Amendment.
Similarly, President and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, Chuck Wolfe, remembered Kennedy’s prominent role in the fight for LGBT equality:
[Senator Kennedy] will always occupy a special place in the hearts of LGBT Americans who saw in him a fierce champion for their full equality.
The National Stonewall Democrats said in a statement on Wednesday that Kennedy gave a fighting voice to those who were too often overlooked by their government:
Ted Kennedy was an ally to all Americans, but particularly to those forsaken by their peers for any reason. He fought to bring equal opportunity to the poor, and to bring equality under the law to women and racial minorities. And he was an uncompromising champion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
For a complete record of Sen. Kennedy’s leadership on equality legislation, please visit here.