After struggling with a brain tumor for more than a year, Sen. Ted Kennedy, who served 46 years in the Senate, died early this morning at his home in Cape Cod’s Hyannis Port. He was 77.
Gay advocates will remember the Massachusetts senator most recently for standing behind a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Bill, a cause he reignited earlier this year. In his remaining weeks in office, and despite an absence on the Hill, Kennedy and his staff was also involved in generating support for a Senate-led repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell; we expect New York’s Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to continue championing the cause. Kennedy was also a vocal supporter of marriage equality, consistently voting, in 1996 and again in 2006, against bills banning the practice. Kennedy lobbied for AIDS funding, joining then-First Lady Hillary Clinton‘s health care fight. Indeed, he spent much of his career championing health care reform — though it remains to be seen whether his Democratic colleagues will engender that legacy for him.
Was he a perfect politician? Of course not, but God has yet to make one. Kennedy was a voice for gay America when there was no other inside the halls of Washington.
Sen. Kennedy bids adieu to this life, where he kept our kind close to his heart. He will be missed.