John McCain: the senator who went from LGBT opponent to ally dies age 81

John McCain, the Vietnam war veteran, senator and presidential candidate, has died aged 81.

He had been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour in July 2017 and had been undergoing treatment.

McCain’s family announced he had decided to cease treatment on Friday and he died on Saturday in Arizona, his office said.

“Senator John Sidney McCain III died at 4:28pm on August 25, 2018. With the senator when he passed were his wife Cindy and their family,” his office said in a statement.

McCain opposed the transgender military ban (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“At his death, he had served the United States of America faithfully for 60 years.”

The senator, a celebrated war hero, has been noted as a strong LGBT+ ally in recent years, although this has not always been the case.

He was a supporter of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which forced soldiers to hide their sexual identity, and called the vote to allow gay people to serve openly in the US military a “sad day” in 2010.

Last year, however, McCain came out in opposition to President Donald Trump’s proposed transgender military ban.

“Any member of the military who meets the medical and readiness standards should be allowed to serve — including those who are transgender,” Mr McCain said in a statement.

In 2015, McCain, made headlines when he threw his support behind Barack Obama’s nomination of Eric Fanning, who is openly gay, to be the Secretary of the Army.

John McCain and his daughter Meghan (Nicholas KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

McCain was one of ten Senate Republicans to vote in favour of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would bar employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

He was also a strong opponent of Arizona’s proposed “license to discriminate” bill, which would have allowed businesses to refuse service to LGBT+ customers.

“Senator McCain was a patriot and a hero, whose life was defined by his service and sacrifice on behalf of our country,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement.

“While we disagreed on many issues, later in his career, he became an increasingly vocal advocate for LGBTQ servicemembers.

“In the last few years, Senator McCain blocked anti-LGBTQ language in the National Defence Authorisation Act, opposed a ‘license to discriminate’ bill in Arizona, denounced the Trump-Pence Administration’s effort to ban transgender troops and spoke out against the nomination of the anti-LGBTQ Mark Green to lead the Army.

“We join with millions of Americans in mourning his loss, and extend our deepest condolences to Senator McCain’s wife, Cindy, and his entire family.”