The "liberal lion of the senate" Sen. Ted Kennedy has died at 77 after a year-long battle with brain cancer.
"We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever," the Kennedy family said in a statement. "He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it."
President Obama said in a statement today, "An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time."
An LGBT advocate, Sen. Kennedy was one of only fourteen votes in 1996 to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and also fought tirelessly to block an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would have banned marriage equality nationwide.
Sen. Kennedy represented Massachusetts, the first state in the Union to legalize marriage equality.
"The nation’s eyes were on Massachusetts today, and they saw a triumph for civil rights and fundamental fairness," he said. "Today’s historic vote will have a national impact on civil rights for years to come. Massachusetts has led the nation in education, in health care and in biotechnology, and today Massachusetts renewed its commitment as a proud leader in civil rights."
“We know the future will outlast all of us, but I believe that all of us will live on in the future we make." - Sen. Ted Kennedy
He will be missed.