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Canada Loses Hero for Gay Rights to Cancer

Canada Loses Hero for Gay Rights to Cancer


A mainstream leader for the gay rights movement in Canada, Jack Layton, is being mourned across the country after losing a fight with cancer.

Layton, 61, led the country's opposition New Democratic Party and is being celebrated by the LGBT community for a long list of contributions. Gay newspaper Xtra! rounded up a timeline that begins in 1982 with Layton's election as an alderman in Toronto based on backing from LGBT residents. He later oversaw response to the city's AIDS crisis in the 1980s, even distributing condoms.

In his first speech after being elected to the House of Commons, Layton called for marriage equality. He is known as the only party leader to round up votes on same-sex marriage, helping to pass the law in 2005.

His body is lying in state now at the Canadian parliament. And the color orange, for his party, will illuminate the landmark CN Tower on the night of Layton's funeral.

Layton wrote a final letter to the country before passing on Monday.

"Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped," he wrote. "So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue."

His final words in that letter: "Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world."Letter to Canadians From Jack Layton[scribd expand=1 site_id=25879312]

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