Louise Slaughter was a fierce fighter. | Photo: Wikimedia/US Congress
Louise Slaughter, a Democratic Representative from New York and the oldest sitting member of Congress, died on Friday (16 March) at 88. She served in Congress for more than three decades.
Liam Fitzsimmons, Slaughter’s chief of staff, confirmed her passing. She died in a Washington, D.C. hospital while being treated for a concussion after falling in her home.
Born in the coal mining town of Lynch, Kentucky, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from the University of Kentucky and then a master’s degree in public health.
Her political career began in 1982 when she ran for the New York State Assembly. Slaughter defeated the Republican incumbent and served for four years.
In 1986, she won the midterm election for New York’s 30th District. She served in this Congressional seat until her death. She became the first woman ever to represent Western New York.
A progressive record
Slaughter used her voice and power to fight for both LGBTQ and women’s rights.
As listed on her website, she was a staunch supporter for these rights since the start. In 1996, she was one of only 67 members of Congress who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act. She supported marriage equality up to the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision and beyond. She also voted to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
The longtime politician was also one of the original co-sponsors of the Equality Act.
The Act would add sexuality and gender identity as protective classes to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Even as Republicans block it with their own discrimination act, Democrats continue to fight to pass it.
Furthermore, she supported full adoption rights for LGBTQ people. Slaughter co-sponsored the Every Child Deserves a Family Act.
Remembering a hero
People recalled the contributions Slaughter made on Twitter. They also praised the strong advocate and ally she was.
A member of the Human Rights Campaign tweeted her accomplishments.
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter:
— co-authored Violence Against Women Act
— fought for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
— early supporter of marriage equality
— original co-sponsor of Equality Act
— member of LGBTQ Equality Caucus
Champion of equality. Rest in peace.
— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) March 16, 2018
‘Congresswoman Slaughter was proud to be a strong champion for the LGBTQ community and was one of the earliest Members of Congress to support marriage equality,’ added HRC President Chad Griffin. ‘For three decades, Congresswoman Slaughter fought tenaciously on behalf of New Yorkers and all Americans, blazing a trail as one of the most powerful and influential women in Congress.’
People also remembered her personal victories.
Besides breaking ground in politics, Louise Slaughter got a BS in microbiology & a Masters in public health at the University of Kentucky in 1951/1953. Unusual in a period when women were being shooed not just off factory floors, but out of universities & certainly the sciences.
— Rebecca Traister (@rtraister) March 16, 2018
Louise Slaughter was a legend. She had a kindness that made you happy to know her and a fire in her belly that sure made me glad we were so often on the same team. The country and the Congress are a better place because of her, and we must work to fill the void her loss has left.
— John Dingell (@JohnDingell) March 16, 2018
In Louise Slaughter we had a fearless public servant, a champion of women’s rights, and a leader in the truest sense of the word. She will be so missed but her legacy will live on. Thinking today of her family and loved ones.
— Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) March 16, 2018
And how she touched and inspired so many lives.
We are really going to miss Louise Slaughter, an extraordinary American and a gifted leader. I am grateful for her lifetime of service and the example she set in breaking through barriers & standing up for everyone. Our thoughts are with her family, her friends and her staff.
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) March 16, 2018
Oh my goodness. This is stunning news. Louise Slaughter was one of the sharpest, funniest and nicest women in Congress. Ranking member of the House Rules Committee. Lot of people will be upset over this. https://t.co/BzJLdRkZjq
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) March 16, 2018
Louise Slaughter has died at 88 after 30+ years in Congress representing the Rochester area.
She was one of the longest serving members of Congress, a pillar of the Democratic Party and a champion of diversity.
Remember her by fighting what she stood for in this election year.
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) March 16, 2018