Leading lesbian activist and artist Connie Kurtz has died at the age of 81.
Kurtz, who worked with her wife Ruth Berman to create the LGBT Elder Americans Act, passed away on May 27 after a long illness.
The legislation paved the way for older LGBT+ people to be recognised as a vulnerable population, which meant that the government would collect statistics and serve them, reported Gay City News.
“Connie and her soulmate Ruth have been iconic leaders of our community for decades, which is why the federal legislation SAGE has introduced in Congress on behalf of LGBT elders is named after them,” said Michael Adams, the CEO of SAGE, referring to the Ruthie and Connie LGBT Elder Americans Act, reported Gay City News.
“Words can’t explain how sad we are that Connie has passed. We send our love and condolences to Ruth. And we celebrate and honour Connie’s fierce and passionate legacy, which has made the world a better place for so many of us.”
Kurtz met her partner Ruthie in 1988.
Alongside her wife, she created branches of Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in New York and Florida, and in 2000, and served with her as a co-chair on Lesbian Rights Task Force of the New York State chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW).
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Although marriage was not yet legal for same-sex couples in the US, the pair had a Jewish wedding officiated by Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum in 2000, and married officially two days after same-sex marriage came into fruition in the New York state in 2011.
“Connie was a force of nature,” Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, who married the couple, told Gay City News.
“Everyone who encountered her — even for the first time and even briefly — felt her passion, her love, her fierceness, and her humor. Connie and her love Ruthie changed the world, and never lost the love of life, of art, and of all of her people. I am sending my love to Ruthie and all who are in grief over this terrible loss. A great light has gone out in our world. May her memory forever bless us and may our lives be forever a blessing to her memory.