U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg died early Monday morning at age 89. The Democratic senator from New Jersey was the oldest member of the Senate and the last World War II veteran serving there.
Lautenberg, a longtime advocate for the LGBT community, was a strong supporter of same-sex marriage, voted to prohibit job discrimination based on sexual orientation, and to expand the federal definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation.
Following the tragic death of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, Lautenberg introduced the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act to help combat harassment and cyber-bullying on college campuses.
Lautenberg is also remembered for authoring the Ryan White Care Act, which provides services to AIDS patients.
“Senator Lautenberg was a beacon for equality in Congress. He fought for justice with more than simply his vote. He knew bullying in our schools is a scourge, and he stood up to end it. He knew that workplace discrimination and hate crimes erode the freedom of all Americans, so he worked to stop them, session after session,” said Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement.
For well over a decade, Lautenberg has received a 100% rating on the HRC Scorecard, which scores members of congress on their positions on LGBT-related legislation.
President Barack Obama praised Lautenberg as a proud citizen of New Jersey who fought to keep America’s promise alive as a senator.