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Ted Kennedy Extols Gerry Studds’s “Leadership”

From the (New York Times owned) Boston Globe:

His 'leadership changed Mass. forever'

Ex-congressman Gerry Studds dies

By Bryan Marquard, Globe Staff | October 15, 2006

Gerry E. Studds, who championed environmental, maritime, and fisheries issues during 24 years in the US House of Representatives and lent an eloquent voice to health and human rights matters, died early yesterday.

First elected in 1972, Studds entered politics as part of a generation emboldened by its opposition to the Vietnam War and turned his focus in Congress to issues close to the hearts of his constituents. A Democrat, Studds had been reelected five times when in 1983 he became the first member of Congress to openly acknowledge he was gay.

Subsequently he became the first openly gay candidate elected to Congress and was re elected five more times before announcing in October 1995 that he would not seek a 13th term representing the 10th Congressional District, which includes New Bedford, the South Shore, Cape Cod, and the Islands.

He publicly disclosed his sexual orientation after a former congressional page, then 27, said in 1983 that he and the congressman had a sexual relationship a decade earlier, when the page was 17. The House censured Studds for sexual misconduct.

Studds, 69, had been hospitalized after falling while walking his dog several days ago. He died in Boston Medical Center of complications from vascular disease, according to his husband, Dean T. Hara.

"Gerry's leadership changed Massachusetts forever and we'll never forget him," US Senator Edward M. Kennedy said in a statement

During 12 terms in the House, Studds pushed for more funding of AIDS research and worked to repeal the ban on gays and lesbians in the military. In his waning days in Congress, he spoke out on the House floor against the Defense of Marriage Act.

"I have served in this House for 24 years," Studds said in July 1996. "I have been elected 12 times, the last six times as an openly gay man, and for the last six years I have been in a relationship as loving, caring, as committed, as nurtured and celebrated and sustained by our extended families as any member of this House."

Studds and Hara married in 2004, a week after gay marriage became legal in Massachusetts.

"It was Gerry's greatest desire to be a private citizen and to be a private person," Hara said yesterday

US Representative William D. Delahunt, who now represents the 10th district, said that "even now, his legacy is alive and well in the halls of Congress."

"He was a very formal and reserved guy," US Representative Barney Frank said yesterday. "When he retired, he retired. One of the ironies of his life was that he was one of the most private people I've ever met who was in that kind of public position."

In 1987, Frank became the second member of Congress to publicly acknowledge he was gay. By being the first, Studds "clearly gave some other people the courage to do that," Frank said. "It probably had a bigger impact on younger people who said, `You know what, I guess I can think about a political career after all.' " …

An odd contrast to the coverage the Boston Globe has given the (so far as we know at the moment) legal activities of former representative Mark Foley.

By being the first, Studds "clearly gave some other people the courage to do that," Frank said. "It probably had a bigger impact on younger people who said, `You know what, I guess I can think about a political career after all.' "

Of course as the article notes it only came out that Mr. Studds was gay when a former Congressional page ratted out their illegal sexual relationship ten years earlier. (Which, coincidentally, is also how Barney Frank came to "publicly acknowledge" his sexual persuasion.)

Such leadership! Such heroism!

US Representative William D. Delahunt, who now represents the 10th district, said that "even now, his legacy is alive and well in the halls of Congress."

That is probably all too true. Alas.

But what was Mark Foley's crime again?

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, October 15th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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