WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), a 50-year veteran of the U.S. Senate and a recipient of the nation’s highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor, died of respiratory complications at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on Monday afternoon.
Inouye, 88, was the longest serving U.S. Senator and was president pro tempore of the Senate, third in the line of presidential succession.
“Few have done so much for so many as Senator Daniel Inouye,” said Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement. “He distinguished himself in everything he set his mind to — from his heroic service in World War II to his historic tenure and record of accomplishment in the U.S. Senate. He gave his entire life to serving his fellow citizens.”
“LGBT Americans across this country especially honor his unequivocal support for full LGBT equality—most notably, his 1996 vote against the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, his support for marriage equality and his co-sponsorship of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and other pro-equality legislation,” said Griffin.
“Senator Inouye was a trailblazing leader and he will remain in our memories for standing with his LGBT sisters and brothers from day one. We will miss him, and every American should be grateful to have been touched by the life of this remarkable man.”
In an obituary today, The Washington Post noted that Inouye was “a methodical behind-the-scenes operator who rarely sought the media spotlight, he was little known outside Hawaii and the halls of the Capitol. But his wartime record, for which he received the nation’s highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor — coupled with his reputation for a bipartisan approach to politics — helped him gain respect and influence from colleagues of both parties in Washington.”
Inouye’s other military decorations included the Distinguished Service Cross, the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.
His first wife, Margaret Awamura Inouye, died in 2006 after 56 years of marriage. In 2008, Inouye married Irene Hirano, president and chief executive of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.
In addition to his wife, Inouye is survived by a son from his first marriage, Daniel K. Inouye Jr., a stepdaughter, Jennifer Hirano, and a granddaughter.