BOSTON (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Gerry Studds, the first openly gay person elected to Congress, died early Saturday at Boston Medical Center, several days after he collapsed while walking his dog, his husband said.
Studds fell unconscious Oct. 3 because of what doctors later determined was a blood clot in his lung, Dean Hara said.
Studds regained consciousness, remained in the hospital, and seemed to be improving. He was scheduled to be transferred to a rehabilitation center, but his condition deteriorated Friday and he died at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday, Hara said.
Hara, who married Studds shortly after gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts in 2004, said Studds was a pioneer who gave courage to gay people everywhere by winning re-election after publicly acknowledging his homosexuality.
"He gave people of his generation, or my generation, of future generations, the courage to do whatever they wanted to do," he said.
Studds was first elected in 1972 and represented Cape Cod and the Islands, New Bedford, and the South Shore for 12 congressional terms. He retired from Congress in 1997.
In 1983, Studds acknowledged his homosexuality after a former congressional page revealed he'd had a relationship with Studds a decade earlier.
Studds was censured by the House for having sexual relations with the page. He acknowledged having sex with a 17-year-old male page in 1973 and making sexual advances to two others and admitted an error in judgment, but did not apologize.