“My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Over the course of his career, the Senator never failed to speak on behalf of those without a voice, championing civil rights and continually standing at the forefront of our nation’s most defining struggles.

“He has been called the lion of the Senate and indeed he was just that. The first time I saw him speak in public was in the early 1990’s when we were both at a dinner for the Empire State Pride Agenda. As he had done so many times before, Senator Kennedy was there to offer his voice and his support to a movement for equality. And what a voice. He had a gregarious way about him that brought all in the room to our feet and made us laugh; but, when it came to the matter at hand, his thunderous words echoed throughout the hall with an awesome force. It was one of the rare moments that I found myself speechless. To have Senator Kennedy stand with the LGBT community that night so many years ago, and on countless occasions since then, is an honor that has given me an added determination that I will always carry with me.

“Some might say that Senator Kennedy’s passing marks the end of an era, but the power of a voice and a conscience like his cannot be silenced. Each of us who work toward fulfilling the promise of our country carries his legacy into each and every endeavor – it is up to us to make sure this isn’t the end of an era, but rather the start of the next chapter. Senator Edward Kennedy may be gone but his legacy, that of working towards equality for all, lives on.”