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Gay political pioneer Thomas Duane retires from office

The first HIV-positive person elected to an American office will not seek re-election
Thomas Duane, the gay political pioneer, will not seek re-election when his term ends on 31 December

Thomas Duane, the first HIV-positive person to be elected to an American office, announced he is retiring from office today (4 June).

The first openly gay man elected in the New York State senate, Duane has served since 1998.

He gleefully told the New York Times on Sunday (3 June) he had not been involved in a scandal, or had become sick, but was simply tired of commuting into the state capital.

‘It's not that Albany isn't a lovely place, but it's not home,’ the 57-year-old Duane told the paper. ‘I always knew that I was going to have another chapter in my life, and it's time for me to start that new chapter.’

Duane was a pivotal figure in the fight for marriage equality in the state, and had only begun to think about retiring a few weeks ago when he married long-term partner Louis Webre.

He also attended the wedding of the city council Speaker and former chief of staff lesbian Christine Quinn.

The senator was also instrumental in the passage of the Hate Crimes Protection Act, which stipulates longer penalties for those convicted of hate crimes.

Duane ruled out becoming a lobbyist, and said he had no plans to run for office again.

He said: ‘I am going to fight for people and in my own small way try to make the world a better place. I’m never going to stop doing that.’ 

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