Ed Flanagan: America’s first openly gay person elected to statewide office dies
The first openly gay man elected to statewide office in the United States has died.
Former Vermont state senator Ed Flanagan made history when he was voted into office in 1992.
He died in a nursing home in New Hampshire at age 66.
His health had been declining as the result of a car crash in 2005, which left him with a traumatic brain injury after spending several weeks in a coma.
His death was a result of long-term injuries in the car crash, according to Vermont Democratic State Rep. Mary Sullivan, who had been a long-time friend of Flanagan’s and helped his unsuccessful 1988 run for Vermont Attorney General.
Sullivan described Flanagan as a “passionate and progressive” person, and that he was “guided by a moral compass” throughout his career.
Flanagan was first elected auditor in 1992 and was then elected for three additional two-year terms, two of which he was elected for after having come out as gay in 1995.
After leaving the auditor position in 2000, he was elected to the state Senate in 2004 after a previous unsuccessful attempt to secure the US Senate seat then held by Republican James Jeffords.
He was then reelected in 2006, after he was injured in the car crash, and again in 2008.
Although Flanagan’s recovery after his car crash was described as “miraculous” by his brother, his ability to continue working was questioned after the crash.
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Flanagan is one of a number of pioneering LGBT politicians who paved the way forward for LGBT rights in the United States.
Kathy Kozachenko became the first openly LGBT person to be elected to political office when she won a seat on a Michigan city council in 1974.
The assassination of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California, caused a resurgence around LGBT people holding political office.
As of June 2016, there are openly gay politicians serving in all 50 states.