Ann Kaner-Roth, Minnesota Deputy Secretary of State and tireless civil rights activist, dies at 49

Ann Kaner Roth had been battling brain cancer since March.
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Lawmakers and civil rights advocates are mourning Deputy Minnesota Secretary of State Ann Kaner-Roth, who has died at the age of 49.

The mother-of-three, who had been battling brain cancer, died on Thursday afternoon. She is survived by her husband Marc and their three children, Avia, Ari and Isa.

She joined the Office of the Secretary of State in January 2015 after a career as a civil rights activist and LGBTQ champion.

"The world has lost a special soul," Secretary of State Steve Simon said on Thursday. "I'm devastated by her death – and I'm heartbroken for her family."

"She was my friend, my collaborator, and my colleague. She dedicated her professional life to giving equal voice and equal dignity to as many people as she could," he added.

Her most notable achievement as a civil rights activist came as the executive director of the nonprofit Project 515, which played a vital role in the ultimately successful movement to enact marriage equality in Minnesota.

She was also the co-chair of Minnesotans United for All Families, and served on the boards of the Equality Federation and the Family Equality Council.

Her daughter, Avia, paid tribute to her mom on Facebook, saying: "Endless love and gratitude for the woman who is not only a role model for me, but everyone who strives to make positive and progressive change in their communities and world."

'A fierce ally'

Among the groups paying tribute is the Human Rights Campaign, for whom Kaner-Roth served on its national Board of Governors.

It described her as "a fierce ally, advocate and leader of the LGBTQ in Minnesota and across the nation."

"Ann was a tireless leader and ally for LGBTQ equality, and her historic work to win marriage equality in Minnesota helped lead the entire nation to victory on the issue just a few years later," said Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign. "We will always be grateful for Ann's dedication and leadership. Her legacy will not be forgotten, and Minnesota will forever be a better place because of Ann."

There have been plenty of local activists and lawmakers paying tribute on social media.

Her funeral is being held Friday morning at First Universalist Church in south Minneapolis.

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