October 17, 2019 at 10:50 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Elijah Cummings dies at Baltimore hospital
U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) died in a Baltimore hospital on Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo public domain)

Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings died on Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Cummings, 68, represented Maryland’s 7th congressional district, which includes portions of Baltimore, since 1996. Cummings most recently chaired the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is among the committees leading the impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

The Associated Press notes Cummings backed needle exchange programs as a way to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Cummings in October 2012 was the last member of the Maryland Democratic congressional delegation to publicly back the state’s same-sex marriage law. Cummings spoke with the Washington Blade about the issue less than a month before Maryland voters upheld the statute in a referendum.

“I respect and support the decision of the Maryland legislature and will vote in support of Question 6,” said Cummings.

Elijah Cummings, Martin O'Malley, Question 6, Maryland, election 2012, gay marriage, same sex marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade
The-late Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings and then-Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley outside Northwood Elementary School in Baltimore on Nov. 6, 2012. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) are among those who mourned Cummings’ death.

“Congressman Cummings leaves behind an incredible legacy of fighting for Baltimore City and working to improve people’s lives,” said Hogan in a statement. “He was a passionate and dedicated public servant whose countless contributions made our state and our country better.”

Trump, who has previously attacked Cummings, in a tweet extended his “warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings.”

“I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader,” tweeted Trump. “His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace.”

LGBT activists in Maryland also mourned Cummings death.

“What a terrible loss for the people of Baltimore and of Maryland,” tweeted Maryland LGBT PAC Treasurer Brian Gaither, who is also the co-founder of the Pride Foundation of Maryland.

Maryland state Del. Gabriel Acevero (D-Montgomery County) described Cummings as a “servant, leader and statesman.” Maryland state Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City) also mourned Cummings.

“There are no words to sufficiently convey the depth of our sorrow when we learned of the passing of this great man,” wrote Washington on her Facebook page. “We in the 43rd District, Baltimore City, Maryland and worldwide have been blessed to count on him as a friend and mentor. He has been with us in every fight. A strong and steady light in what was too frequently a dull and dismal political landscape. A champion who gave a full-throated voice to our hopes and our outrage.”

“Our hearts go out to Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, her family and indeed the world,” she added. “We will miss him! Good night and rest in peace, our Honorable Elijah Cummings, your spirit will live on as we continue this fight.”

A special election to fill Cummings’ seat has yet to be scheduled.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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