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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 21, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 51
LGBT community loses key ally
Section One
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LGBT community loses key ally

Sen. Daniel Inouye opposed DOMA, co-sponsored ENDA

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, one of the longest-serving U.S. lawmakers in history, died on December 17. He was 88.

Inouye had continuously represented Hawaii in Congress since it became a state in 1959 - first in the House and then, starting in 1963, in the Senate. He had been president pro tem of the Senate - the third in line of presidential succession - since 2010, and was the second-longest-serving U.S. senator after the late Robert Byrd (D-WV). His senatorial career lasted 49 years, 11 months, and 15 days.

ALWAYS ON OUR SIDE
Inouye was an unwavering ally of the LGBT community.

In 1996, he was one of only 14 senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, the others being his Hawaiian colleague Daniel Akaka (D), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Bob Kerrey (D-NE), John Kerry (D-MA), Carole Moseley-Braun (D-IL), Daniel Moynihan (D-NY), Claiborne Pell (D-RI), Charles Robb (D-VA), Paul Simon (D-IL), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Inouye also co-sponsored ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act), the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and the Respect for Marriage Act to repeal DOMA.

As chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Inouye was also a champion of Native American rights. In recognition of his service, the Navajo Nation made him an honorary member.

Inouye also served as a member of the Senate Watergate Committee and chaired the special committee investigating the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan administration.

WITNESSED PEARL HARBOR
The son of a Japanese immigrant father and a native born Japanese-American mother, Inouye was serving at Pearl Harbor as a medical volunteer and planning to become a surgeon when the U.S. base was attacked by Japanese forces. He later recalled that Japanese planes flew directly over his house on their bombing runs.

Unlike many other Japanese Americans, Inouye's family was not interned at the outbreak of World War II, but he was not allowed to enlist in the army, as he wanted to, until 1943. Like other young Japanese-American men, he was sent to Europe to fight, because the U.S. War Department had doubts about their loyalty.

On April 21, 1945, a platoon under his command encountered a German machine gun nest in Italy's Po Valley. Although severely wounded, Inouye continued to direct the assault on the German position and ultimately disabled the machine gun with two well-placed grenades.

Later, his right arm was amputated as a result of his wounds. Ironically, he met another wounded soldier and future U.S. Senator while in the hospital - Bob Dole - and the two became good friends.

For his action in combat, Inouye was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross, a Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart.

In 2000 his DSC was upgraded to a Medal of Honor when the Clinton administration determined that 22 Japanese-American World War II veterans had been denied the country's top military honor because of racial bias.

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