Senator Daniel Inouye, one of the LGBTQ movement’s strongest congressional allies, passed away Monday after being admitted to the hospital for respiratory complications. At the time of his death, Sen. Inouye was the most senior member of the U.S. Senate, a nine-term Senator, a Medal of Honor Recipient, and the first Japanese-American to serve in Congress.
Throughout his career, Sen. Inouye tirelessly advocated for LGBTQ people and their families. Since 1996, Sen. Inouye has been a passionate supporter of marriage equality. He was one of only 14 senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and fiercely advocated for its repeal after it was enacted.
In addition to his unparalleled leadership on marriage equality, Sen. Inouye used his leadership to support LGBTQ equality in other key areas such as employment, immigration, military service, and school safety. He was an early advocate of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” lending his support even before the efforts gained momentum. He co-sponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Student Non-Discrimination Act, and the Uniting American Families Act. He also spoke out strongly against anti-LGBTQ violence and played a leadership role in passing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Throughout his career, he never wavered from his commitment to standing up for the rights and dignity of all people—even when it was not popular or easy. In a time when we must continue to fight for justice for LGBTQ Americans, Sen. Inouye’s leadership and unwavering support will be missed.