The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, is mourning the loss of
Georgia Representative John Lewis.
Lewis died late Friday at the age of 80
after battling pancreatic cancer.
Lewis was best known for his work in
the Civil Rights Movement. He fought to secure voting rights for
Black Americans and end segregation in the United States.
Lewis was also a vocal supporter of
LGBT rights. In 1996, Lewis delivered a speech on the House floor
against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law that prohibited
federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and
lesbian couples. It was a rare showing at the time of public support
for same-sex marriage.
In a 2003 editorial, Lewis called on
readers to support LGBT rights.
“I have fought too hard and too long
against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up
against discrimination based on sexual orientation,” he wrote in
the Boston Globe. “I've heard the reasons for opposing civil
marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions, and they
stink of the same fear, hatred, and intolerance I have known in
racism and in bigotry.”
HRC President Alphonso David said in a
statement that Lewis had “pushed our country closer to the promise
of a more perfect union.”
“Future generations will learn how he
faced down discrimination with courage and defiance, boldly
challenging the United States to envision a future where every
person, no matter their race, sexual orientation or gender identity,
has an equal chance at the American Dream. His legacy will live on in
the work we do every day to further his mission and continue to get
into ‘good trouble’ in the name of equality and justice. We join
the nation in mourning the loss of this giant, and share our deepest
condolences with Congressman Lewis’ family and loved ones,” David
HRC added that Lewis had earned a 100
rating on its Congressional Scorecard, a measure of a lawmaker's
support for LGBT rights.