BEA ARTHUR, American actress, dies (b: 1922); A long time ally of the LGBT community, Bea Arthur, was famous for her title role in the sitcom Maude and later for The Golden Girls and many Broadway appearances and film.

She was an early opponent of Proposition 6 in California that would have forbidden Gay people and their allies from being teachers. It was called The Briggs Initiative after the state senator John Briggs who sponsored the ballot initiative. When this writer approached Arthur to request that she appear before the Morals and Ethics Committee of the Screen Actor’s Guild. I asked her if she would help and the first thing she said was “I will do anything you want me to do.” As a result, the SAG union would be among the first to speak out against the broadly discriminatory proposition. 

In November of 2005, Bea flew to New York City from her home in Los Angeles to give a special benefit performance of her one-woman show. The performance raised over $40,000 for the Ali Forney Center. In an interview for Next Magazine Bea explained her decision to offer her support “I’m very, very involved in charities involving youth and the plight of foster children. But these kids at the Ali Forney Center are literally dumped by their families because of the fact that they are lesbian, gay, or transgender – this organization really is saving lives.”

Bea continued to offer her support, both as a donor and as an advocate. In one of her very last interviews, published in the New York Blade in May 2008, Bea spoke with pride of having done the benefit for AFC, and indicated that she would do anything to help gay kids disowned by their parents.