Senator Edward Kennedy: A Record of Leadership on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV Issues

by HRC Staff •

WASHINGTON -- The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, released the following document on Senator Edward M. Kennedy's (D-MA) historic leadership on issues of importance to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Senator Kennedy has been a champion for civil rights since his first term in the United States Senate in 1962. Over the years, Ted Kennedy has supported legislation that promotes equal rights and has fought closed-minded and discriminatory measures. 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. Senator Kennedy has received a perfect 100% on all of HRC's congressional scorecards (101st Congress-110th Congress).

Earlier today, the Human Rights Campaign issued the following statement today on the passing of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA).

"The nation has lost its greatest champion and strongest voice for justice, fairness, and compassion," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "The loss to our community is immeasurable. There was no greater hero for advocates of LGBT equality than Senator Ted Kennedy. From the early days of the AIDS epidemic, to our current struggle for marriage equality he has been our protector, our leader, our friend. He has been the core of the unfinished quest for civil rights in this country and there is now a very painful void. Our hearts go out to the Kennedy family."

In 2008, Senator Kennedy delivered an impassioned speech to the Board of the Human Rights Campaign regarding his support for LGBT issues. To view the speech, go to:

For further information regarding Senator Kennedy's long record of support and leadership on LGBT issues, please contact Trevor Thomas, Deputy Communications Director of the Human Rights Campaign, at 202-216-1547 or at

"No member of the LGBT community should be terrified to walk down the street for fear of hateful violence. Hate crimes perpetrators must not be allowed to place our communities in fear." (Statement on Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, 2009)

"Hate crimes are a form of domestic terrorism. They send the poisonous message that some Americans deserve to be victimized solely because of who they are" (Statement on hate crimes, 2007)

"America stands for justice for all. Congress must make clear that when we say "all" we mean all. America will never be America until we do."(Statement on ENDA, 2007)

"It is wrong for our civil laws to deny any American the basic right to be part of a family, to have loved ones with whom to build a secure future and share life's joys and tears, and to be free from the stain of bigotry and discrimination." (Statement on the Federal Marriage Amendment, 2006)

"While we have come a long way, we still face major challenges in responding to this devastating disease in communities across the countryテ [N]o state by itself can provide the significant resources to help persons living with HIV disease obtain the medical and support services they need. The Ryan White CARE Act is indispensibleテWe know that the CARE Act has made a difference not only in the lives of persons with HIV/AIDS, but also in the lives of countless loved ones who have seen despair turn to hope through the support of CARE Act services." (Statement on the Ryan White CARE Act Reauthorization, 2000)

"We all know what this issue is about. It's not about how to protect the sanctity of marriage, or how to deal with activist judges. It's about politics and an attempt to drive a wedge between one group of citizens and the rest of the country, solely for partisan advantage. We've rejected that tactic before, and I'm hopeful that we will do so again. I'm also hopeful that many of our Republican colleagues - those with whom we've worked over the years on a bipartisan basis to expand and defend the civil rights of gay and straight Americans alike - will join us in rejecting this divisive effort." (Statement on the Federal Marriage Amendment, 2004)

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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