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Sen. Daniel Inouye, 1924-2012
December 17, 2012 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Senator Daniel Inouye, Democrat and senior senator from Hawaii, has died at the age of 88 from respiratory problems.

Inouye was born in Honolulu, the son and grandson of Japanese immigrants. He served as a medical volunteer during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Later, when the U.S. Army began to allow Japanese-Americans to serve, he joined the fabled 442nd Regimental Combat Team (previously). In 1945, Inouye was grievously wounded while leading an assault on the Gothic Line. For his actions, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, which was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor by President Clinton.

After the war, Inouye returned to college at the University of Hawaii. He later earned a law degree from George Washington University and shortly thereafter was elected to the Hawaii Territorial Legislature (PDF). He was then elected to the U.S. House of Representatives on August 21, 1959, the same date Hawaii officially entered the union. He was elected to the Senate in 1962, and at the time of his death was the longest-serving U.S. senator (also making him president pro tempore).

Inouye delivered the keynote address at the turbulent 1968 Democratic National Convention. He later went on to serve on the Senate Watergate Committee, where H.R. Haldeman's lawyer John Wilson called him "that little Jap" during a recess. He also chaired another investigative committee on Iran-Contra.

His wife of 58 years, Maggie, died in 2006. He is survived by his second wife, Irene, and his son, Ken. According to his staff, his last words were, "Aloha."
posted by Rangeboy (109 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:56 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by Sphinx at 3:57 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by absolutelynot at 3:58 PM on December 17, 2012


According to his staff, his last words were, "Aloha."
posted by duende at 3:59 PM on December 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


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posted by lord_wolf at 4:00 PM on December 17, 2012


mahalo
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:01 PM on December 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


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posted by juv3nal at 4:01 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by thanotopsis at 4:02 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by JABof72 at 4:05 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by Splunge at 4:06 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by zombieflanders at 4:06 PM on December 17, 2012


Never heard bad things about the Senator when I used to live in the DC area.

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posted by jonp72 at 4:06 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by JoeXIII007 at 4:06 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by sfred at 4:07 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by Anitanola at 4:10 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by effugas at 4:11 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by Neneh at 4:11 PM on December 17, 2012


He will be sorely missed.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:11 PM on December 17, 2012


Read about his service in WWII. Amazing his heroism. The story about how he lost his arm is amazing in his focus and his selflessness.

Thank you Senator for your years and years of service to our country. I salute you.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:12 PM on December 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


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posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:13 PM on December 17, 2012


I hope this doesn't come across as disrespectful, but Senator Inouye was a complete badass World War 2 veteran and a member of the remarkable all-Nisei 442nd.

I'm going to badly misremember his World War 2 experience, but in essence, he was promoted to Sergeant and was involved in a number of ferocious battles. At one point, they were trying to take out four German machine gun bunkers. Inouye took a bullet to the stomach and kept on charging until they'd taken out the first. He then was told the wound was pretty fucking serious, but he turned around and led his men in taking out the second. He collapsed from loss of blood. While his men were taking out the third, he dragged himself towards the final bunker. As he raised his arm to throw a grenade, his right arm was mostly shot off at the elbow. His fist was still clenched around the grenade and he wouldn't let his men get close to him because he was afraid it might relax and let it go. With his left hand, he took the grenade out of his useless right hand, took a bullet to the leg, and threw the grenade into the German bunker, destroying it.

His men finally rescued him at that point and while they were dragging him to safety, he said something like 'get back to work - the war isn't on time out."

As I said, I'm paraphrasing some, but everyone out here knows (or should know) his story.

He and his fellow veterans transformed Hawaii's politics and largely made the state what it is today. But, you know, even if he'd done nothing else with his entire life, he'd still be just about the toughest, bravest, most determined son of a bitch to ever come from Oahu. When you talk about Greatest Generation, Senator Dan Inouye is exactly who you're talking about.

Bad. Ass.

Rest in Peace, Senator, and thank you for everything you did for Hawaii and the USA.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:14 PM on December 17, 2012 [110 favorites]


Mahalo, sir.
posted by jquinby at 4:16 PM on December 17, 2012


I hope this doesn't come across as disrespectful, but Senator Inouye was a complete badass

Considering one of the links is to his entry at BadassOfTheWeek.com, I think you're good.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:16 PM on December 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh, wow, should have looked at the links. The man was amazing.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:17 PM on December 17, 2012


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His son was in the great harDCore band Marginal Man, which I always thought was pretty cool. One can certainly imagine some Senators absolutely refusing to let their kids play in a hardcore band.
posted by OmieWise at 4:21 PM on December 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


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posted by cazoo at 4:21 PM on December 17, 2012


Yeah, that badass of the week link captures the story much better than I did. As that writer eludes to, you can't make a movie about his experience because people wouldn't believe it.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:22 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aww. I was just reading about this earlier. 32 cent stamps in the US have Hawaiian shirts on them and they all say ALOHA. I've got them on all my holiday cards and I'll be thinking about Inouye's words zipping all over the world. This scoots my Senator, Leahy, into the president pro tem position. I went over to his website to see what, if anything, he had to say about this and he had this sweet statement about Inouye.
Senator Inouye was the best of the ideals and the great promise of the nation that he loved and served so valiantly. What better role model for public service could any American ask for.

What a remarkable life he led. A veteran of World War II and the Greatest Generation, he received the Congressional Medal of Honor. A pioneer who helped forge Hawaii’s emergence as a state, he was his beloved home’s first member of Congress.

We worked together on so many matters, large and small, and over so many years that it would be difficult to catalogue that list. For decades I have sat at the desk he inscribed, and he escorted me to the well of the Senate to be sworn in for my current term.

A man of few words, most importantly he was a man of his word.

I have always admired his diligence, his character and his willing bipartisanship as a legislator.

I will always cherish memories of his grace, his kindness and his friendship.
Thanks for this post.
posted by jessamyn at 4:23 PM on December 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


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posted by Sys Rq at 4:28 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by SillyShepherd at 4:29 PM on December 17, 2012


I loved his interviews in Ken Burns's The War documentary.
posted by zsazsa at 4:30 PM on December 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


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posted by samofidelis at 4:33 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by Cranberry at 4:34 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by ariel_caliban at 4:34 PM on December 17, 2012


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Mahalo nui loa, Senator.
posted by mogget at 4:34 PM on December 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


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Tomorrow will be the first day that Hawaii has a Congressional delegation without Daniel Inouye in it. Ever. The Capitol will be a lesser place.
posted by Etrigan at 4:38 PM on December 17, 2012 [23 favorites]


For the record, in case anyone is wondering, Hawaii law states that the Governor must appoint somebody of the same party to replace a Senator under these circumstances. The next election would, theoretically, be held in November, 2014.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:38 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by Navelgazer at 4:42 PM on December 17, 2012


I think we should just retire the term badass now that Cap. Inouye is gone.

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posted by dry white toast at 4:42 PM on December 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by disclaimer at 4:43 PM on December 17, 2012


A great American.
posted by blob at 4:46 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by Spatch at 4:46 PM on December 17, 2012


A leading candidate is Tulsi Gabbard, who would then become the first Hindu senator instead of the first Hindu congresswoman, as she is currently scheduled to become. Not much experience, but she's young, a rising star, and that would give her a chance to join Hawai'i's tradition of long-serving Senators. They've only had five total, in fifty-three years.
posted by Fnarf at 4:46 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by Lynsey at 4:51 PM on December 17, 2012


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This is a huge loss. I will miss him and his leadership.
posted by threadbare at 4:51 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by rossmeissl at 4:51 PM on December 17, 2012


He also called out Oliver North during the Iran-Contra hearings in a way that made the bunch of WWII officers I watched the hearings with swear at Ollie.

Omie beat me to Kenny, who really took the breath out of the HarDCore scene in DC.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 4:53 PM on December 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by postcommunism at 4:53 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by dealing away at 5:07 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 5:10 PM on December 17, 2012



posted by bz at 5:12 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I was a super-low-status legislative fellow in the Senate, I came around a corner in the basement of the Dirksen building and almost ran right over Senator Inouye. Thankfully, I was able to stop in time. I can't even imagine what that would have been like. I never heard *anything* disparaging about him on the Hill, and that's saying a lot.
posted by wintermind at 5:21 PM on December 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


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posted by reductiondesign at 5:25 PM on December 17, 2012


Mahalo, Senator.
posted by oneironaut at 5:27 PM on December 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


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They don't make men like Daniel Inouye any more.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:36 PM on December 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by brevator at 5:45 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by tommasz at 5:49 PM on December 17, 2012


Mahalo and Aloha, Senator.
posted by 26.2 at 6:01 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by Bwithh at 6:06 PM on December 17, 2012


I think I'm going to cry, he was a good man!
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posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:07 PM on December 17, 2012


I certainly hope Tulsi Gabbard's perspectives on marriage equality don't connect in any way with those of her father, anti-gay activist Mike Gabbard.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:28 PM on December 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sen. Frank Lautenberg is now the last WWII vet in Congress...so it goes.
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 6:29 PM on December 17, 2012


I certainly hope Tulsi Gabbard's perspectives on marriage equality don't connect in any way with those of her father, anti-gay activist Mike Gabbard.

You could, say, check Wikipedia.
posted by hoyland at 6:48 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by scaryblackdeath at 6:51 PM on December 17, 2012


Thanks for this, Rangeboy, and thanks particularly for the "little Jap" anecdote, as it gave a definitive answer to some questions I've had about this Doonesbury comic strip, published November 16, 1973.

Absent knowledge of the attorney's characterization, I could not say with certainty that the reference to a Japanese-American congressperson was not to Spark Matsunaga or Patsy Mink, both representatives from Hawaii, rather than to Senator Inouye. Hell, I even spent some time trying to find the height of Inouye, Matsunaga, and Mink to see if any was notably shorter than average.

In retrospect, however, I should have found it odd that strip creator Garry Trudeau would use such an epithet against a person, much less a member of Congress. As it turns out, it was an ironic quotation rather than Trudeau's own construction.
posted by The Confessor at 6:55 PM on December 17, 2012


Serious question: why hasn't a movie been made about him? I mean, just read this (also linked in the post).

Anyway:

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posted by librarina at 7:20 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by mkb at 7:37 PM on December 17, 2012


I pointed a video camera at Sen. Inouye several times, and he was never less than genuine and interesting (not well-distributed characteristics in DC, I'm afraid). Rest in peace, sir.
posted by Shotgun Shakespeare at 7:44 PM on December 17, 2012


It's not often that you can say someone represents 'the best of America',but Sen. Inouye certainly did. We are a lesser people for his loss.
posted by pjern at 7:52 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by annsunny at 7:54 PM on December 17, 2012


Mahalo, a hui hou.
posted by BibiRose at 7:56 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by rtha at 8:24 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by 1367 at 8:47 PM on December 17, 2012


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We got the news just as I was leaving the office today, and most of the rest of our staff had already left. All of us commented that we literally could not imagine the place without him.

Several of my coworkers have been working for the Senate for 40+ years. Senator Inouye had was already an established figure in the Senate when they graduated from High School. Perhaps more amazingly, he ended a 58-year political career with barely a blemish to his name.
posted by schmod at 9:20 PM on December 17, 2012


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Ever since we read the Wikipedia article describing how he lost an arm, his badassery has been the stuff of legend at work. He should be included in the pantheon of Great Americans.
posted by sleeping bear at 10:16 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:36 PM on December 17, 2012


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posted by Feisty at 11:57 PM on December 17, 2012


Serious question: why hasn't a movie been made about him?

There actually is a movie about the 442nd, Go For Broke! (free at the Internet Archive, as its copyright lapsed, but if you want you can spend $9.99 at iTunes). It's fictionalized to the point of being generic, and the protagonist is Van Johnson (as a white officer whose prejudices are challenged), but it's quite watchable.

If war movies were a thing anymore, I'd happily see it remade with better production values and story.

Senator Inouye,
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posted by dhartung at 11:57 PM on December 17, 2012


One thing I find frankly astonishing is that he didn't get the Medal of Honor until 2000. WTF were those chuckleheads thinking, not to give it to him in the very next year?

Goddamn racist mo)U)(*)(*%)%ers.
posted by Malor at 12:01 AM on December 18, 2012


Although I am more conservative than most on this site, I LOVE the fact he had the street cred and cojones to tell that asshole Ollie North to essentially shove it. Fucking Iran Contra.

I get the feeling he was a Senator, but not a politician like we think of politicians today. He served with dignity, respect and a willing to work with both sides of the aisle to reach reasonable decisions.

The more I read about him the more impressed I am. I only wish I had known all this while he was still alive and serving. I might have even written him a letter thanking him.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:19 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I LOVE the fact he had the street cred and cojones to tell that asshole Ollie North to essentially shove it.

Available on Youtube if you want to see it again.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:22 AM on December 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


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posted by Carius at 2:07 AM on December 18, 2012


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posted by Thorzdad at 4:38 AM on December 18, 2012


Way back in the dark ages, I was an elementary-school kid in Hawaii, and my class was tapped to sing the state anthem at the school's celebration of Hawaii's 10th anniversary of statehood. Unexpectly, Sen. Inouye stopped by for a half hour or so: he spent most of it thanking us for our performances, singling out individuals and groups. I can't say we kids were entirely sure of exactly who this man was; but we all knew we were being honored by a superstar --- the man had presence.

Mahalo and Aloha, sir.




Oh yeah: he was a 17-year-old high school student in Honolulu when Pearl Harbor was attacked; he --- like many others --- immediately rushed to assist in caring for the dead and wounded. He'd had Red Cross training because he was planning to become a doctor; after he lost his arm that plan was out, and that's why he studied law and went into politics instead. Like so many other Japanese-Americans, he begged to be allowed to join the Army and serve their country; when they were finally permitted in, they were sent to Europe because that way they couldn't 'collude' with the Japanese soldiers in the Pacific theater. Inouye joined the Army as a private, and eventually won a battlefield commission as a lieutenant.
posted by easily confused at 5:48 AM on December 18, 2012


I hope this doesn't come across as disrespectful, but Senator Inouye was a complete badass World War 2 veteran and a member of the remarkable all-Nisei 442nd.

Definitely. Hawaiians of Japanese ancestry have some pretty badass history in World War II, but they're all stoic and non-braggy about it, which makes it even more badass. You can make movies about this stuff. There's even a quote that dates from Hawaii in the 1940s, "Never shoot a Hawaiian three times. He will get mad at you."
posted by jonp72 at 6:54 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hawaiians of Japanese ancestry have some pretty badass history in World War II, but they're all stoic and non-braggy about it, which makes it even more badass.

Not to derail*, but Americans of Japanese ancestry generally have some pretty badass history in WW2 -- before 2000, the only Japanese-American Medal of Honor recipient was Sadao S. Munemori, whose citation becomes rather more impressive when you realize two things:
1) alphabetically, the very next MOH citation refers to the recipient "killing many Japs," and
2) at the time of PFC Munemori's heroic sacrifice, the rest of the Munemori family was interned at Manzanar.

* -- I suspect that Sen. Inouye would not mind a derail that told about how awesome the nisei were.
posted by Etrigan at 7:07 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by dlugoczaj at 7:12 AM on December 18, 2012


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posted by dragonplayer at 8:35 AM on December 18, 2012


MartinWisse: "I LOVE the fact he had the street cred and cojones to tell that asshole Ollie North to essentially shove it.

Available on Youtube if you want to see it again .
"

Oh man, that is just a fantastic clip. I can't think of many politicians who could keep such a cool head in an exchange like that.

Oliver North's lawyer was obviously aiming to start a fight and get a good soundbite from the Senator, and Inouye didn't even flinch. He knew not to feed the troll.
posted by schmod at 9:27 AM on December 18, 2012


I was going to say . , but instead I'll follow the late Senator's example and say "aloha."
posted by Gelatin at 10:25 AM on December 18, 2012


Late Sen. Daniel Inouye Was the Biggest Punk in Congress, with this from the comments:
I remember seeing him at a Marginal Man show at some local community center in the late 80's. He and his wife were way in the back against the wall standing on a chair... you can conjure up this image of a bunch of thrashing punks, mohawks, skins, fists flying and then this small sea of serenity of the floating heads just above the crowd of the Senator and Mrs. Inouye silently watching Kenny with pride and joy.
posted by EvaDestruction at 11:12 AM on December 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


I thought he would go on forever.

love.
posted by mule98J at 12:32 PM on December 18, 2012


From a statement from Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin:

"LGBT Americans across this country especially honor [Inoye's] unequivocal support for full LGBT equality—most notably, his 1996 vote against the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, his support for marriage equality and his co-sponsorship of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and other pro-equality legislation. Senator Inouye was a trailblazing leader and he will remain in our memories for standing with his LGBT sisters and brothers from day one. We will miss him, and every American should be grateful to have been touched by the life of this remarkable man."

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From a press release from Equality Hawaii:

Sen. Inouye had a pristine record on LGBT issues, one of only 14 votes against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and supporter the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." He was also a co-sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) to provide immigration equality to same-sex partners. When Pres. Obama announced his support of marriage equality, Sen. Inouye said, "I look forward to working with the President to ensure his position on marriage equality becomes law in this country."

"Sen. Inouye has long been a beacon of hope for those who endured ridicule and retribution for being different," said Equality Hawaii Co-Chair Scott Larimer. "Our hearts go out to his family, friends and all people of Hawaii. His tireless advocacy for the civil rights of all people will always be remembered."


We talk a LOT about how gay rights are moving forward because a lot of the opposition to it is literally dying. But celebrating those that were with us is something I'm going to try to do more of.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:05 PM on December 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Martin, thanks so much for that link. It is exactly what I was thinking about. Puts me right back on that couch with my incredulous Uncles.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 2:19 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Didn't know much about the late Sen. Inouye prior to this posting, so thanks for this. And for the image of the senator in full Kill Bill shred mode against them Nazis. Wotta story!

aav.

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posted by the sobsister at 3:13 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


When senators learned that Daniel Inouye died
posted by homunculus at 4:00 PM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


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posted by LobsterMitten at 4:50 PM on December 18, 2012


Aloha.
posted by Not The Stig at 9:32 PM on December 18, 2012


What an incredibly nice guy, through and through. Mahalo, Senator Inouye.

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posted by Purposeful Grimace at 9:37 PM on December 18, 2012


My favorite Inouye moment was in 2002 when he stood up to Bush and warned against war with Iraq (all of the Hawai'i delegation voted against the war).

"I'm concerned about the security of this country," Inouye said. "I'm concerned about what history will say about this nation 50 years from now. Did we brutalize people, or did we carry on ourselves as civilized people? ... To attack a nation that has not attacked us will go down in history as something that we should not be proud of."

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Even so, it should be noted that Inouye was very much a politician - he was staunchly pro-military/military-industrial complex in the old school style. And that certainly affected the development of Hawai'i
posted by Surfurrus at 1:44 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Heard on NPR the other day:
Bob Dole and Daniel Inouye met in a medical hospital as they were both injured in the war. Inouye wanted to be a surgeon, and he lost his arm in the war, and he would tell the story that he was wondering what he was going to do with his life now, and in a conversation with Bob Dole, who was also injured, said he was going gonna to go to law school, run for office, and he was going to go to congress. And Inouye was like, "well, okay, that sounds like a good idea, too!"

And Inouye actually ended up getting elected to the Senate first, he beat Bob Dole to the Senate. And he'd joke, always give Bob Dole a hard time, saying that he beat him, he got there first.

And Dole, who's now in a wheelchair, was assisted in the rotunda and he stood up with his wife Elizabeth Dole, a former senator as well, and he said he didn't want Danny to see him in a wheelchair. And he shed a tear at his coffin, and stroked his coffin that was draped in the American flag, and was quietly led back out of the rotunda.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:06 AM on December 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


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