Staunch LGBT ally and fierce adversary of Trump, Elijah Cummings, has passed away

Tributes are pouring in for the Democratic congressman and staunch LGBT+ ally, Elijah Cummings, who sadly passed away on October 17 aged 68.

The Maryland congressman and chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee was a prominent figure in the Trump impeachment inquiry, who made headlines recently after Trump dubbed his Baltimore district a “rodent-infested mess.”

Cummings was a consistent ally of the LGBT+ community and voiced his support for same-sex marriage during Maryland’s 2012 referendum on marriage equality.

He reiterated his support after the Supreme Court extended marriage equality to the whole of the US in 2015. “It so clearly and rightly upholds the principles of freedom and equality under the law that our nation embodies,” he said in a statement.

In 2016 he shot down the arguments for the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill that would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT+ people under the guise of freedom of religion.

He pointedly drew comparisons to discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion or disability, before asking the panel: “Now raise your hand if you believe it is acceptable for businesses in this country to discriminate against employees who are in same sex marriages.”

He publicly condemned the timing of a Congress hearing to discuss the bill – exactly one month after the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. 49 people were killed at the gay bar in what was one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history.

“Even if you truly believe that being gay is morally wrong, or that people should be allowed to discriminate against gay people, why in the world would you choose today of all days to hold a hearing on this discriminatory legislation?” he said.

Cummings also proposed needle exchange programs to reduce the spread of AIDS. His death is mourned by many advocates in Maryland and beyond.

“What a terrible loss for the people of Baltimore and of Maryland,” tweeted Maryland LGBT PAC Treasurer Brian Gaither.

Stonewall Democrats praised Cummings for “act[ing] in defence of our democracy as a patriot to honour our constitution.”

LGBT+ author Eric Rosswood called the senior congressman “a trailblazer and a beacon of hope.”

Hillary Clinton described him as “a giant” who championed “truth, justice and kindness.”

Among those mourning his loss most strongly is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, who paid tribute to “his wisdom, his warm friendship and his great humanity.”