- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 15, 2006

From combined dispatches

BOSTON — Former Rep. Gerry Studds, a Massachusetts Democrat who was censured in 1983 for having a sexual relationship with a male 17-year-old congressional intern, died yesterday at Boston Medical Center, an official said. He was 69.

Mr. Studds died several days after he collapsed while walking his dog, his partner said. Doctors determined his loss of consciousness was caused by a blood clot in his lung, Dean Hara said.

Mr. Studds regained consciousness and seemed to be improving, but his condition deteriorated Friday because of a second blood clot. The origin of the second clot has not yet been determined, said Mr. Hara, who “married” Mr. Studds soon after same-sex unions were legalized by court edict in Massachusetts in 2004.

Mr. Hara said the former congressman gave courage to homosexuals by winning re-election after publicly acknowledging his sexual preference.

“He gave people of his generation, of my generation, of future generations, the courage to do whatever they wanted to do,” said Mr. Hara, 49.

Mr. Studds was first elected in 1972 and served for 12 congressional terms. He retired from Congress in 1997.

Early in his career, Mr. Studds was known for opposing the Vietnam War and military intervention in Central America. Mr. Studds later became an advocate for a stronger federal response to the AIDS crisis and was among the first members of Congress to endorse lifting the ban on homosexuals serving in the military.

In 1983, Mr. Studds acknowledged his homosexuality after a 27-year-old man disclosed that he and the congressman had had a sexual relationship a decade earlier when the man was a teenage congressional page.

The House censured Mr. Studds, who then went home to face his constituents in a series of public meetings. At the time, Mr. Studds called the relationship with the page, which included a trip to Europe, “a very serious error in judgment,” but he did not apologize and defended the relationship as a consensual relationship with a young adult. The former page later appeared publicly with Mr. Studds in support of him.

The scandal recently resurfaced when Rep. Mark Foley, Florida Republican, resigned after exchanging sexually explicit instant messages with a former teenage male page. Republicans accused Democrats of hypocrisy for savaging Mr. Foley while saying little about Mr. Studds at that time.

In Congress, Mr. Studds, an outspoken advocate for the fishing industry, was hailed by his constituents for his work to establish a limit for foreign fishing vessels 200 miles from the coast. After leaving Congress, he became a lobbyist for the fishing industry and environmental causes.

“His work on behalf of our fishing industry and the protection of our waters has guided the fishing industry into the future and ensured that generations to come will have the opportunity to love and learn from the sea,” Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, said in a statement. “He was a steward of the oceans.”

In addition to Mr. Hara, Mr. Studds is survived by a brother, a sister and four nephews.

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