Sen. Ted Kennedy, gay hero, dies at 77
LGBT leaders are rememberiong Senator Ted Kennedy, who died today, as the gay community’s greatest champion in the Congress. National political correspondent Lisa Keen reports.
The LGBT community can be divided on many things political –like who to support for president, whether to stage a national march on Washington, and when put a ballot measure before voters. But on one thing, everyone seems to agree: The gay community had no greater advocate in Congress than Senator Ted Kennedy.
Kennedy died late Tuesday at the age of 77. He had been suffering from a form of brain cancer.
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese called Kennedy the “greatest champion and strongest voice for justice, fairness, and compassion.” He said his loss to the LGBT community is “immeasurable.”
It was a sentiment echoed repeatedly Wednesday by many of the LGBT leaders who had worked for and with Kennedy over the years.
One of them, David Smith, worked as Kennedy’s Director of Communications for several years. He’s now vice president for programs at HRC. He said Kennedy was “battling for” the LGBT community even against the Senate’s most ardently anti-gay members, such as Jesse Helms.
Smith said, “God only knows what would have happened if Senator Kennedy hadn’t been there”, recalling Helms’ efforts to quarantine people with HIV and promote other anti-gay legislation.
Chai Feldblum worked with Kennedy on drafting the Americans with Disabilities Act to protect people with HIV, as well as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and other legislation that the LGBT community sought. She called Kennedy “the go-to person with anything to do with gay rights” –not just because of the position he held, said Feldblum, but “because of who he was.”
–Keen News Service