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By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Julia Pell, a longtime advocate for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, died at age 52 last week. The daughter of the former U.S. Senator from Rhode Island Claiborne Pell, Julia Pell served as president of Rhode Island Alliance for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights.
Pell died at Newport Hospital on Thursday evening, The Providence Journal reported on its Web site.
Pell came out as a lesbian in the early 1990s. She was a lobbyist for gay rights legislation in the Rhode Island Statehouse.
Her father, a Democrat, invoked his daughter’s name during a 1993 Senate debate in which he supported a lesbian nominated for a position in the Clinton administration.
“He always stood up for me; he always stood up for what was right,” Julia Pell told The Associated Press in a 1995 interview.
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said of Pell, “America is closer to her promise of equality because of Julie Pell. She embodied the quintessential American spirit of striving to create a better world for us and the generations that will follow. As the president of Rhode Island’s GLBT organization she was the driving force behind the state becoming among the first to institute a sexual orientation non-discrimination law.”
Solmonese continued, “Julie showed us all how powerful one’s personal testimony can be in a political realm. By speaking out, she not only encouraged thousands of Americans to publicly support fairness, but also her own father who stood up for equality on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Julie’s legacy carries on in Rhode Island and around the country. Our thoughts and prayers are with Julie’s partner and the rest of her family. She will be truly missed.”