Saturday, October 14, 2006

First Openly Gay Congressman Dies

Former U.S. Rep. Gerry Studds, the first openly gay person elected to Congress, died early today at Boston Medical Center, several days after he collapsed while walking his dog, his husband said.

Studds was first elected in 1972 and represented Cape Cod and the Islands, New Bedford, and the South Shore for 12 Congressional terms.

In 1983, Studds came out of the closet after a page revealed he'd had a relationship with Studds a decade earlier, when the page was 17. Studds was censured for sexual misconduct by the House, then went home to his constituents to answer questions in a series of public meetings and interviews with the press.

Studds defended the relationship as a consensual relationship with a young adult. The page later appeared publicly with Studds in support of him. He retired from Congress in 1997.

Studds married his partner, Dean Hara, shortly after gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts in 2004. Hara said Studds was a pioneer who gave courage to gay people everywhere by winning re-election after publicly acknowledging that he was gay.


At 8:50 AM, Anonymous Richard W. Lewis, Sr. said...

Thank You Congressman Gerry Studds.

I never met you and I didn't know you but as a young man growing up in the South I would read about you in the newspaper and you were a role model.

As a gay man I knew I could reach the top of my profession just as you had done.

Thank You, Sir.


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