Elijah Cummings has sadly passed away after complications from longstanding health problems. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)
Tributes are pouring in for the Democratic congressman and staunch LGBT+ ally, Elijah Cummings, who sadly passed away on October 17 aged 68.
The Maryland congressman and chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee was a prominent figure in the Trump impeachment inquiry, who made headlines recently after Trump dubbed his Baltimore district a “rodent-infested mess.”
Cummings was a consistent ally of the LGBT+ community and voiced his support for same-sex marriage during Maryland’s 2012 referendum on marriage equality.
He reiterated his support after the Supreme Court extended marriage equality to the whole of the US in 2015. “It so clearly and rightly upholds the principles of freedom and equality under the law that our nation embodies,” he said in a statement.
In 2016 he shot down the arguments for the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill that would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT+ people under the guise of freedom of religion.
He pointedly drew comparisons to discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion or disability, before asking the panel: “Now raise your hand if you believe it is acceptable for businesses in this country to discriminate against employees who are in same sex marriages.”
He publicly condemned the timing of a Congress hearing to discuss the bill – exactly one month after the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. 49 people were killed at the gay bar in what was one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history.
“Even if you truly believe that being gay is morally wrong, or that people should be allowed to discriminate against gay people, why in the world would you choose today of all days to hold a hearing on this discriminatory legislation?” he said.
Cummings also proposed needle exchange programs to reduce the spread of AIDS. His death is mourned by many advocates in Maryland and beyond.
“What a terrible loss for the people of Baltimore and of Maryland,” tweeted Maryland LGBT PAC Treasurer Brian Gaither.
Waking to the sad news about the death of @RepCummings — what a terrible loss for the people of Baltimore and of Maryland. My deepest condolences to @MayaRockeymoore and the rest of the Congressman’s family.
— Brian Gaither (he/him) (@briangaither) October 17, 2019
Stonewall Democrats praised Cummings for “act[ing] in defence of our democracy as a patriot to honour our constitution.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings was a fierce champion of civil rights, including LGBT rights. We join the country in mourning the loss of a true hero of equality. He acted in defense of our democracy as a patriot to honor our constitution.
Rest in Power. https://t.co/ETUWZi4mz2
— Stonewall Democrats (@SDNYC) October 17, 2019
LGBT+ author Eric Rosswood called the senior congressman “a trailblazer and a beacon of hope.”
We lost an icon today. Rep. Elijah Cummings was a fighter, a trailblazer, and a beacon of hope. Thank you for all you’ve done in the fight for equal rights. The world is a better place because you were in it. https://t.co/4VEu8te0A6
— Eric Rosswood (@LGBT_Activist) October 17, 2019
Hillary Clinton described him as “a giant” who championed “truth, justice and kindness.”
America lost a giant with the passing of Rep. Elijah Cummings, a man of principle who championed truth, justice and kindness. He fiercely loved his country and the people he served. Rest In Peace, my friend.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 17, 2019
Among those mourning his loss most strongly is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, who paid tribute to “his wisdom, his warm friendship and his great humanity.”
The House has lost our North Star. Chairman Elijah Cummings was a leader of towering character & integrity. His wisdom, his warm friendship and his great humanity will be deeply missed. Rest in peace, my friend. https://t.co/WP0830KCkV pic.twitter.com/Hx8RFIWFPC
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) October 17, 2019