WASHINGTON (CNN) - For writer John Aravosis, Edward "Ted" Kennedy's early support for gay rights was very important to a community that has faced a history steeped in discrimination.
"On gay rights, he was absurdly helpful for a straight senator back before gay rights were popular," he said.
Aravosis, who runs AmericaBlog - a political site that often focuses on gay rights issues - said it was Kennedy who sparked his interest in the movement.
"For me it was particularly personal since he gave me my start in gay rights," he said. "I started doing volunteer work in his office in 1993 when I was still working for a Republican senator."
Unabashedly liberal, Kennedy had a long track record in support of gay rights.
Former Massachusetts state Sen. Jarrett Barrios - and incoming President of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation praised the Democratic senator's work.
"In those early years, his support may have turned heads but [that] didn't dampen his support - and eventually helped change hearts and minds about LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] equality in the Senate and around the country," he said in a statement.