Senator Edward Kennedy

The push for equality and civil rights for all lost a significant friend in the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. In a time when so many of these issues remain unresolved--eliminating discrimination against lgtb individuals, equal pay for equal work for women, equal access to quality affordable health care for all--his presence and leadership were needed now more than ever.

Despite his immense wealth Senator Kennedy forged a political career on helping those most in need and seeking inclusion for those most excluded. Senator Kennedy co-sponsored legislation to provide benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees, was a staunch supporter of affirmative action policies and programs, and sponsored re-introducing the Equal Rights Amendment. The list of his legislative efforts to bring all Americans into the fold goes on.

His critics often point to enormity of his personal failings- his implication in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, his reputation as a rake, and a propensity to drink too much. If anything can be said about Senator Kennedy, it is that he lived life large, and begs the question--what great leader did not?

But if the measure of a man's worth comes from helping those most in need, fighting when most have resigned defeat, and reaching out when others pull back, then Senator Kennedy most certainly earned the moniker "the lion." He was a king among kings. Whatever your political leanings there is no denying the true leadership Senator Kennedy showed in the Senate and for this country. His presence in the coming years and in these difficult days will be missed.

Perhaps though the Senator who, despite his liberal beliefs and record, was known most for reaching across the aisle to form bipartisan consensus on difficult issues, has one last act in store. What better, more fitting memory to the Kennedy legacy than to pass significant health care reform this year? It is an issue Senator Kennedy pursued doggedly, and his absence in the recent debate is as clear as partisan rancor is loud. With one last roar we can get it done.

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