Phil Reese

A great light has gone out: R.I.P. Ted Kennedy

Filed By Phil Reese | August 26, 2009 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: straight allies, Ted Kennedy

Few Senators draw such strong emotional reactions from folks as Senator Ted Kennedy. He was almost more of an idea than a person. At least to most Americans. He was the Liberal Lion of the Senate who refused to back down or compromise his beliefs. Love him or hate him though, he was more than a metaphor--he was a father, brother, son, husband, uncle and he was a True Patriot. He loved this great nation of ours dearly and dedicated his entire life tirelessly to it. No one was as much of a constant and conspicuous presence on the hallowed floor of our Capitol as Ted Kennedy.

Ted Kennedy passed away at 77 from brain cancer last night in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts--a state he spent the vast majority of his adult life in service of--he was one of only six U.S. Senators to serve more than 40 years.

Kennedy was a ferocious fighter for healthcare and bills that expanded access to American institutions to all Americans. He fought for immigrants, the poor, the unemployed, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly and children to make more real every day the promise of our nation.

For those of us in the gay community, however, Ted Kennedy's death will leave a huge hole. Few Congressional allies have fought as fiercely for us on the Hill.

It was fitting for Ted Kennedy to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a year in which Harvey Milk and Billy Jean King both also received the honor. Gays and lesbians have always counted Ted Kennedy as an ally. In 1996, Kennedy was one of only a handful of Senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, and an advocate of repealing the act when possible. Kennedy co-sponsored every major LGBT bill that was ever introduced in the Senate--such as the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Bill (on which he was lead sponsor)--and always spoke as our voice in that chamber.

In 2004, while debating the discriminatory Marriage Protection Amendment that would have enshrined hatred of LGBT people in our Constitution, Ted Kennedy said "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 ... The Constitution has never been used as a tool to entrench currently popular views at the expense of an unpopular minority - and it should not be used that way now."

"The promise of America will never be fulfilled as long as justice is denied to even one among us," Kennedy said upon introducing ENDA. "The Employment Non-Discrimination Act brings us closer to fulfilling that promise for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sums it up best, "Ted Kennedy's America was one in which all could pursue justice, enjoy equality and know freedom. Ted Kennedy's life was driven by his love of a family that loved him, and his belief in a country that believed in him. Ted Kennedy's dream was the one for which the founding fathers fought and for which his brothers sought to realize... The liberal lion's mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die."

Few politicians have fought as hard for the underrepresented as Senator Edward Kennedy. For Kennedy, his work on the Hill wasn't about pleasing donors and lobbyists, but about doing what was right to try to make the American Dream come true for more people. If anyone will be able to fill his vacancy in the Senate, these will be very hard shoes to fill. Ted Kennedy was a class act, all the way, and he will be greatly missed.


Recent Entries Filed under Living:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.


He was the perfect example of why there should be term limits. He got the presidential medal of freedom because he was dying. He kept his privileged position as senator right up INTO his death bed. Healthcare costs are a horrible mess and that is a nice way to say it. I don't know about you but when my friends' cobra plan was up around TWO DECADES AGO, they were basically told to go fucking die so stop honoring Kennedy any more than we should Reagan. He was right there at that time and now you are holding him up as some great example. That is no different that saying Kate Hudson is some great actress. It is the family business and that is no triumph. Anything any politician does that is the right thing for their constituents should not be reason to get on your knees and praise them. There is something horribly twisted when multimillionaires want to be public servants FOR LIFE. It is self serving. Your words are propaganda and feel good nonsense simply because a man is dead. Ted Kennedys' America of justice, equality and freedom you tout does not exist. People are not interested in American "dreams". They would settle for a reality one twentieth as prosperous as the Kennedy Clan. I am sick of hearing all this crap about how wonderful this man was when the last thirty years have been treacherous for LGBT people and he was right in the center of the storm that did LITTLE to change it. Gay people changed their own reality. I am not going to join or participate in some camelot building myth. Our lives are still under attack.

Ted Kennedys' America of justice, equality and freedom you tout does not exist. People are not interested in American "dreams". They would settle for a reality one twentieth as prosperous as the Kennedy Clan. I am sick of hearing all this crap about how wonderful this man was when the last thirty years have been treacherous for LGBT people and he was right in the center of the storm that did LITTLE to change it. Gay people changed their own reality. I am not going to join or participate in some camelot building myth. Our lives are still under attack.

It doesn't. Teddy strove to bring that America into reality, but wasn't successful. It's up to us to do it. As you say, our lives are still under attack.

I hope I'm 20% as successful at achieving "Ted Kennedys' America of justice, equality and freedom."

Ok Bill, perhaps i callously misspoke. Dreams are beneficial for all of us to have. I am glad Phil Reese loves Ted Kennedy and support him.

It is possible to be privileged and rich and benefit from being of a powerful family, and at the same time be a force for good in the world.

Ted Kennedy was all of those things. I was proud to have him as my Senator, and I am deeply saddened by his passing. There are precious few politicians left, especially on the national level, who take their charge as public servants as seriously as Kennedy did.