Lambda Legal Mourns the Passing of Civil Rights Icon John Lewis

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July 18, 2020

Lambda Legal joins others around the country in mourning the loss of John Lewis, a civil rights icon who dedicated his life to the struggle for justice and human dignity. We stand in awe and admiration of Mr. Lewis’ enormous contributions not only to the LGBTQ community but to the unending struggle to uproot inequality wherever it exists. Every one of us who continues the fight for equality and civil rights in our own communities owes a great debt to this fearless, tireless leader who has stood on the frontlines for more than fifty years. 

In 2007 in Selma, President Obama paid tribute to Congressman Lewis as part of the “Moses Generation” of civil rights leaders whose heroism paved the way for future generations of activists, saying ‘I’m here because you all sacrificed for me. I stand on the shoulders of giants.’ Truer words were never spoken about the enormous contribution of this legendary man to the struggle for dignity for all people. We all stand on John Lewis’s shoulders, and we must today pick up the torch to continue the work to which this great man dedicated his life. 

At a moment when people around the world are pushing at the bounds of equality and justice and demanding more through protests in the streets, we need only look the example that John Lewis set for us. Whether it was on a bus as a Freedom Rider, on that Selma bridge as a young SNCC organizer fighting for voting rights, or in the halls of Congress where he served for thirty years voting for progressive causes, including LGBTQ rights, John Lewis exemplified commitment to change both from outside and within. 

As an LGBTQ advocate, John Lewis was not only a champion of marriage equality, but he introduced the Equality Act, a bill to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, credit, education, and jury service. He also intrduced the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, a bill to promote the best interests of children by prohibiting discrimination by federally-funded child welfare agencies against children, families, and individuals on the basis of religion, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), and marital status. He has stood with our communities against the recent attacks from the Trump administration that we are fighting in court, including the ban on transgender servicemembers and the anti-transgender health care rule. 

We offer our sympathies to Congressman Lewis’ family and loved ones. We honor his legacy by continuing the fight for justice and equality for all.