Gerry Studds

Former congressman Gerry Studds died on Saturday morning at the age of 69. Mr. Studds was the first openly gay congressman and from 1973 through 1997 he represented a district of Massachusetts that includes Cape Cod. An advocate for fishermen's rights and a leading voice on the establishment of national parks along the Massachusetts shore, Mr. Studds was also a firm advocate for gay rights. He and his longtime partner were married a week after same-sex marriages were legalized in Massachusetts law and he is cited to have said that "it was the fight for gay and lesbian equality that was the last great civil rights chapter in modern American history."
The Republican party, flailing out in any way to deflect attention from its own problems, has brought up Gerry Studds' name up in relation to the Foley scandal as, in 1983, Studds was censured by the House for a relationship with a 17-year-old page (that occurred in 1973). The scandal publicly outed him, though many of his constituents confessed that it came as no surprise. At the time, 17 was the legal age of consent according to state law and it was a mutually consenting relationship; the young man continued to offer his support to Studds -- thus, the censure was that of engaging in relationships with subordinates. Studds was elected to seven terms after his censure and retired from Congress in 1997 to work as a lobbyist for the fishing industry.

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