Tributes flood in for ‘trailblazer’ Dianne Feinstein following death aged 90

A black and white picture of Dianne Feinstein smiling as she holds a pair of glasses.

Tributes across the political landscape have poured in for the late Democratic senator, Dianne Feinstein, following news of her death at 90 years old.

News of Feinstein’s passing came on Friday (29 September) after a statement from her office said she died at her home in Washington DC overnight.

“Senator Feinstein was a force of nature who made an incredible impact on our country and her home state,” officials wrote. “She left a legacy that was undeniable and extraordinary.”

The oldest member of the US Senate’s death follows months of concern over her ability to continue working in her position due to alleged memory and cognitive issues.

Feinstein was reportedly permitted to vote as recently as Thursday.

Political figures pay tribute to Dianne Feinstein

Politicians, activists, and human rights groups commended the former San Fransisco mayor for her decades of political activism, including as an LGBTQ+ ally.

You may like to watch

US president, Joe Biden, called Feinstein a “true trailblazer” and a “cherished friend” in a White House statement.

“Dianne was a role model for so many Americans – a job she took seriously by mentoring countless public servants,” Biden said. “She had an immense impact on younger female leaders for whom she generously opened doors.

“Dianne was tough, sharp, always prepared, and never pulled a punch, but she was also a kind and loyal friend, and that’s what Jill and I will miss the most.”

Vice president, Kamala Harris, shared a similar tribute praising Feinstein for her work on LGBTQ+ rights, marriage equality, and reproductive rights.

“She was not only a leader for our state, but for our nation and our world,” Harris said. “Through her long career, Senator Feinstein worked across the aisle to help our nation live up to its promise.”

Dianne Feinstein described as ‘fearless champion’ for equality

As a nine-year-long member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which she was appointed to in 1969, Feinstein helped bring some of the most groundbreaking pro-LGBTQ+ policies in the nation at the time.

Her appointment as the 38th mayor of San Francisco, which she served from 1978 to 1988, emerged through the tragic killing of George Moscone and Harvey Milk by former supervisor Dan White, which she was forced to announce in an infamously chaotic address.

Years later, Feinstein was appointed to the US Senate in 1992 where she became one of the most outwardly supportive LGBTQ+ allies.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Kelley Robinson called her a “fearless champion” for equality and a “tireless fighter for justice.”

“Her history is our history,” she said. “We mourn her loss, but we carry her legacy forward by committing to the fight for equality and justice without exception.”

Her activism during her time as senator included being one of just 14 to vote against Bill Clinton’s Defense of Marriage Act, which codified heterosexual couples as the only legitimate form of marriage.

Feinstein was also the original cosponsor of the Equality Act and a lead sponsor of the 2022 Respect For Marriage Act.

She also received criticism for a number of policy decisions. In 1982, she vetoed an ordinance that would have allowed same-sex couples to gain domestic partnership benefits, saying that she didn’t oppose the concept but found it to be full of “vagueness.”

California governor Gavin Newsom must now appoint a replacement in the US Senate to serve out the remainder of her term, which ends in 2025.