Victory Fund Honors Gay Md. Lawmakers
The Victory Fund honored the eight gay and lesbian lawmakers who spearheaded the passage of Maryland's marriage equality bill in Washington, D.C., on Sunday.
Delegates Anne Kaiser (D-Montgomery), Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery), Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City), Bonnie Cullison (D-Montgomery) and Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) and state Sen. Rick Madaleno (D-Montgomery) received a standing ovation at the organization's National Champagne Brunch at the Washington Hilton. Delegates Peter Murphy (D-Calvert) and Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City) were unable to attend the event, but Victory Fund intern Geoff Corey described the legislators as an inspiration to LGBT young people before he introduced them.
"Achieving marriage equality in Maryland was a victory for many groups and many people and they worked hard for a long time for it," he said. "For the men and women that you are about to meet, it was a fight about their very own lives. And that is what made the crucial difference in winning it for all of us."
Governor Martin O'Malley signed the marriage equality bill into law on March 1 after the state Senate approved the measure by a 25-22 margin. The proposal narrowly passed in the House of Delegates in February.
Madaleno specifically applauded Clippinger's work on the marriage equality bill on the Judiciary Committee during his remarks in the nation's capital. He also highlighted a conversation his husband had with a then-undecided delegate during a drive from Baltimore City to Montgomery County.
"Last year during that conversation about our children and our family moved her from a wavering individual to a confirmed yes and co-sponsor of the bill," said Madaleno.
He also thanked First Lady Katie O'Malley and Joseph Bryce, the governor's chief legislative officer, for their efforts in support of the marriage equality bill. State Sen. Allan Kittleman (R-Carroll and Howard) lost his position as Senate minority leader after he became the first Republican lawmaker to back the measure, but Madaleno said his support has "never waivered."
"Like we saw in New York State, this doesn't happen if there is not a bi-partisan coalition to support marriage equality," said Madaleno.
Maryland is among eight states and the District of Columbia that have enacted marriage equality laws. And while the statute is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, opponents of the law will likely collect enough signatures to force a referendum on the issue in November.
"In Maryland we did have a historic victory, but we're also focused on what's next," said Mizeur, specifically referring to the likely ballot measure and a bill that would protect transgender Marylanders from discrimination in housing, public accommodations and employment. "There's much work left to be done."