Larry McKeon, the
first openly gay member of the Illinois state
legislature, died Tuesday in Springfield, Ill., the
Chicago Tribune reports. He was 63.
suffered from cancer and AIDS-related illnesses, but the
immediate cause of death was a stroke, according to a
Springfield newspaper, The State
Journal-Register. Barbara Flynn Currie, the
majority leader in the state house of representatives,
announced his death Wednesday from the house floor in
Springfield, the state capital.
Democrat, was first elected to the house in 1996 from a
district on the north side of Chicago. He was openly gay
throughout his political career, and during his
first campaign he acknowledged being HIV-positive. He
went on to serve five terms. He was an advocate for
gay rights, among many other causes, and his tenure saw
the passage in 2005 of a state law prohibiting
antigay discrimination in employment and housing.
In 2006 he
decided not to seek reelection because of his health.
Recently he had been working part-time as a
lobbyist in Springfield for clients including the AIDS
Foundation of Chicago.
McKeon was an
army veteran and had been an officer with the Los
Angeles County Sheriff's Department before moving to Chicago
in the 1980s to attend graduate school. He then worked
as a college instructor and social services
administrator, and in 1992 he became executive director
of the Chicago Human Rights Commission's Advisory Council on
Gay and Lesbian Issues.
He was named to
the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1997. (The