LA Times LogoJohn Wilkens | Ben Dillingham, a retired Marine who became a political power broker clearing a path for pioneering gay office holders in Southern California, has died at his home in San Diego. He was 72.

“He was the lodestar for those of us aspiring to serve in politics,” said state Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), who in 2014 became the first lesbian speaker of the state Assembly.

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