The late Senator Edward Kennedy,

US Senator Edward Kennedy, who passed away on Tuesday night after a long battle with brain cancer, has been lauded as a great ally of the LGBT community in the US Senate.

Kennedy had led the charge over the years on important legislation like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

He had also forcefully opposed discriminatory proposals the US Senate has brought forward in the past, including the Defense of Marriage Act and the Federal Marriage Amendment.

“The nation has lost its greatest champion and strongest voice for justice, fairness, and compassion,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese in a statement. “The loss to our community is immeasurable.”

“From the early days of the AIDS epidemic, to our current struggle for marriage equality he has been our protector, our leader, our friend. He has been the core of the unfinished quest for civil rights in this country and there is now a very painful void. Our hearts go out to the Kennedy family,” said Solmonese.

Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called Kennedy “a hero to many across the country and around the world,” adding that “Senator Kennedy was unmatched in his compassion and in his willingness to stand with those who often lacked a champion.”

The incoming President of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and former Massachusetts state Senator Jarrett Barrios said: “It is impossible to fully describe the transformative impact of Ted Kennedy in the Senate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. His passing is a loss for many of us who knew him, and all of us who benefited from his uncompromising support of our full equality.”

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