We are saddened to hear of the passing today of long-time Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who was a tremendous ally to the LGBT community.

It is hard to imagine that LGBT people and people living with HIV could have had a more devoted and rock-solid friend than Mayor Menino. His policies and positions were all aimed at ensuring not only that LGBT people were welcome in Boston, but that they could participate fully and equally in the life of our city.

From his refusal to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, to being an early champion of domestic partner health insurance benefits and then an early and steadfast supporter of marriage equality; from leading Boston to become one of the few cities in Massachusetts to implement needle exchanges, to ensuring the school committee adopted safe schools programs for LGBT youth, every LGBT person in the city knew that the Mayor was with you.

He gave voice to our inclusion in the city, and was at the same time an inspiration to our community. And he did all these things at a time when there was less acceptance and it was much less popular than it is today to support the LGBT community.

In addition to his policies and positions, the Mayor was the kind of person that when he saw a problem or injustice or a person suffering, he stepped in to create solutions.  For instance, in 2001, Belynda Dunn, a beloved HIV educator in the African American community was in need of a liver transplant to save her life.  Insurance companies wouldn’t cover transplants for HIV positive people at the time, claiming they were experimental.  While GLAD pursued the issue in court, the Mayor stepped up to create a fund to pay for the transplant, until we were able to change the law.  That was the kind of extraordinary thing Mayor Menino did.

All of us at GLAD, and all of us in the community, will miss the Mayor and his unique style of leadership and inspiration. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones at this difficult time.