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Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) Not Running for Re-Election

For the first time in over 50 years, there will not be a Kennedy in Congress come November.

Here is his announcement:

Rhode Island Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy will retire after eight terms in office, bringing an end to his House career just months after his father, legendary Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, passed away.

Kennedy has easily held Rhode Island’s 1st district since 1994 despite the occasional attempt by Republicans to knock him off.

Patrick Kennedy’s retirement means that for the first time in nearly five decades there will not be a member of the Kennedy family in Congress. His father, who served Massachusetts in the Senate for more than four decades, died on August 25.

Kennedy’s seat, which includes the northeastern reaches of the state, is strongly Democratic. President Barack Obama won the seat by 32 points in 2008 while Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) carried it by 26 points in 2004.

Among the Democrats mentioned as possible Kennedy replacements include: Providence Mayor David Cicilline, Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts and state party chairman Bill Lynch.

State Rep. John Loughlin was already in the race on the Republican side.

This is a blow to the LGBT community:

First elected to the U.S. House in 1994, Kennedy has been a steadfast supporter of the LGBT community. In 1996, he was among 67 House members to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act. He also voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004 and 2006.

Kennedy has co-sponsored hate crimes protections bills since at least 2001, and voted in favor of passing the legislation in 2007 and 2009. Kennedy has also co-sponsored versions of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act since his first year in Congress and voted for the bill in 2007.

The lawmaker has co-sponsored numerous other pro-LGBT bills, including the Uniting American Families Act and the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act as well as legislation that would repeal DOMA and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

A supporter of same-sex marriage, Kennedy voiced his support for marriage rights for same-sex couples in a statement when he announced in 2008 he would be a founding member of the LGBT Equality Caucus.

“Discrimination against any individual because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is simply unacceptable,” he said at the time.

“That’s why I’m so proud to be a founding member of this caucus. The LGBT Equality Caucus will provide a crucial platform in our fight for comprehensive hate crimes legislation, marriage equality and an end to workplace discrimination. At this point in history, we have a unique opportunity to advance the cause of equality.”

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