Main | Sunday, October 14, 2012

Former Sen. Arlen Specter Dead At 82

Longtime Republican, recently turned Democrat, and friend to the LGBT community, former Sen. Arlen Specter has died at the age of 82.
One of the few remaining Republican moderates on Capitol Hill at a time when the party had turned sharply to the right, Mr. Specter confounded fellow Republicans at every turn. He unabashedly supported Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal, and championed biomedical and embryonic stem cell research long before he received his cancer diagnosis. When he made a bid for the White House in 1995, he denounced the Christian right as an extremist “fringe” — an unorthodox tactic for a candidate trying to win votes in a Republican primary. The campaign was short-lived; Mr. Specter ended it when he ran out of cash. Years later, he said wryly of the other candidates, “I was the only one of nine people in New Hampshire who wanted to keep the Department of Education.”
Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin reacts via press release:
"On behalf of the Human Rights Campaign, I extend our condolences to the family of Arlen Specter. His support for repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and passage of the Matthew Shepard hate crimes law was critical. As was his willingness to change his mind and oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 after voting for it in 2004. While we disagreed with his support for some conservative judicial nominees which will leave a lasting negative impact on our community, he was willing to work across party lines to get things done."

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