|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Connecticut's 4th district
January 3, 1971 - May 7, 1987
Stewart Brett McKinney
January 30, 1931
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||May 7, 1987 (aged 56)|
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Yale University (BA)
Stewart Brett McKinney (January 30, 1931 - May 7, 1987) was an American politician who represented the Connecticut's 4th congressional district in the House of Representatives from 1971 until his death from AIDS in Washington, D.C. in 1987.
McKinney was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and raised in Connecticut. He attended Kent School and later Princeton University from 1949 to 1951, but dropped out and enlisted in the United States Air Force. He attained the rank of sergeant, and completed his enlistment in 1955. McKinney then returned to college, and received a B.A. from Yale University in 1958.
He raced cars and was involved in several car-related businesses, including Auto Interior Decorators, Inc. and Fairfield Firestone, and was President of a chain of tire stores called CMF Tires. He also owned Lantern Point Real Estate Development and other ventures.
In 1970, McKinney ran for the U.S. House and won. He served in the House as a moderate Republican until his death in Washington, DC. He is widely known for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1986, which provides federal money for shelter programs. McKinney served on the Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee and is credited with coining the phrase "too big to fail" in connection with large banks. In Congress, he served on the House Select Committee on Assassinations. During this time, he also served as a director of Bridgeport Hospital.
His death in 1987 was brought about by complications of AIDS. His physician speculated that McKinney became infected with HIV in 1979 as the result of blood transfusions during heart surgery. McKinney was known by friends to be bisexual, though his family said this was not the case, which raised the issue of how he had contracted the disease. Antigay prejudice at the time of McKinney's death in 1987 may have promoted a disingenuous approach to speculations on the cause of McKinney's HIV infection. Arnold Denson, the man with whom McKinney had been living in Washington, and to whom McKinney left property in his will, said that he had been McKinney's lover, and that he believed McKinney was already infected when Denson met him.
McKinney married Lucie Cunningham, the daughter of Briggs Cunningham II and Lucie Bedford, the granddaughter of a co-founder of Standard Oil. They had five children--Stewart Jr. (b. June 7, 1957), Lucie (b. June 8, 1958), Jean, Elizabeth (b. October 15, 1960), and John (b. March 6, 1964).