We mourn the loss of Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawai’i, who passed away on Tuesday, December 18, 2012. Senator Inouye was an elder statesman in the Senate, and as President Pro Tempore, was third in line for the Presidency- an unprecedented role for an Asian American in politics. Senator Inouye was the first Congressmember to represent Hawaiʻi in the Congress when he was elected in 1959, and was second only to Senator Robert Byrd in years served in the Senate.
As a World War II veteran, Senator Inouye was outspoken about discrimination in the military. He championed the cause of Filipino World War II veterans equity and supported the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, saying in a statement, “In every war we have had men and women of different sexual orientation who have stood in harm’s way and given their lives for their country. I fought alongside gay men during World War II, many of them were killed in combat. Are we to suggest that because of their sexual orientation they are not heroes?” He also supported a range of issues of concern to AAPI and LGBT communities, including Hawaiian sovereignty, immigration, and marriage equality.
“Senator Inouye’s passing is a loss to the entire country,” said Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs. “He was an elder statesman in the Senate, a rarity for AAPIs in Capitol Hill. At the same time, he was an advocate for the LGBT community, speaking out on issues like the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and marriage equality. He will be sorely missed.”