Task Force: Sen. Edward Kennedy 'spent life fighting for justice'

August 26, 2009

Inga Sarda-Sorensen
Director of Communications
(Office) 646.358.1463
(Cell) 202.641.5592

WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force mourns the loss of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who died after battling a brain tumor. Kennedy was a champion of many progressive causes. He was a strong supporter of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He played a central role in enactment of legislation outlawing discrimination in housing, prohibiting gender discrimination, the Age Discrimination Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. He also authored amendments strengthening enforcement of key provisions of the Civil Rights Act.

Kennedy was the original sponsor of hate crimes legislation in 1997. Since then, he fought tirelessly to secure repeated successful votes on the legislation, ultimately wholeheartedly supporting and securing several successful Senate votes for the version of the legislation that included both sexual orientation and gender identity. In 1994, Kennedy was the original Senate lead on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and, in his later years, championed the expanded version that would protect all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

In 1996, Kennedy voted against the "Defense of Marriage Act," led opposition to a federal marriage amendment and opposed an anti-marriage measure in Massachusetts. He fought to end funding of abstinence-only education programs. Kennedy was an outspoken supporter for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and increased funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.

In 1991, Kennedy was a recipient of an “Honoring Our Allies” award from the Task Force. He also attended the Task Force's 1997 “Honoring Our Allies” dinner.

Statement by Rea Carey
Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force mourns the loss of Senator Edward Kennedy, a true champion of the people and a dear friend to our community. The senator was a hero to many across the country and around the world. He spent his life fighting for justice for working people, people of color, children, women, LGBT people, immigrants, people with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS and so many others who looked to his leadership for a more just society. Senator Kennedy was unmatched in his compassion and in his willingness to stand with those who often lacked a champion. Even after his death, his vision will inspire generations to work for the health, welfare and equality for all he so doggedly pursued. We offer our deepest and most sincere condolences to his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones at this difficult time."

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.