In same-sex marriage debate, personal stories and openly gay legislators having impact

In Maryland, the Washington Post reports that “personal appeals” are impacting the marriage debate:

When he learned that Sen. James Brochin was planning to vote against Maryland’s same-sex marriage bill, Tim Connor was dumbfounded.

After all, he and Brochin (D-Baltimore County) knew each other pretty well: For several summers, they had volunteered side by side in the concession stand at the neighborhood pool, where both have daughters on the swim team.

So last month, Connor, who adopted his 11-year-old daughter with his same-sex partner of 20 years, called his senator on his cellphone.

“I said, ‘Jim, what are you doing here?’ ” Connor recalled. ” ‘Look at it through the kids’ eyes. They don’t have any issue with this.’ “

Brochin didn’t tip his hand at the time, but a couple of weeks later, he joined a majority of senators voting for the bill.

You may recall that Bronchin who issued the powerful statement after the Senate hearing on the marriage bill:

“What I witnessed from the opponents of the bill was appalling.” Brochin said. “Witness after witness demonized homosexuals, vilified the gay community, and described gays and lesbians as pedophiles. I believe that sexual orientation is not a choice, but rather people are born one way or another The proponents of the bill were straightforward in wanting to be simply treated as everyone else, and wanted to stop being treated as second-class citizens.

Maggie Gallagher and her posse of haters were attacking people Bronchin and other Senators know.

One sure gets the impression from the way this debate is playing out that LGBT citizens, their families and openly gay legislators are our side’s best lobbyists. And, AP also reported on the impact of openly gay legislators over the weekend, too:

Of America’s 7,382 state legislators, only 85 are openly gay or lesbian. They are, however, playing an outsized and often impassioned role when the agenda turns to recognizing same-sex couples with civil unions or full marriage rights.

In Hawaii and Illinois, gay state representatives were lead sponsors of civil union bills signed into law earlier this year. In Maryland and Rhode Island, gay lawmakers are co-sponsoring pending bills that would legalize same-sex marriage. In New York, a gay senator, Tom Duane, is preparing to be lead sponsor of a marriage bill in his chamber later this session.

The Maryland House of Delegates will be debating the marriage bill this week. If you live in Maryland, make sure you’re calling your Delegates this week. Equality Maryland makes it easy — and it matters. It really matters. The other side is making its calls. The anti-gay churches are pushing their congregants to call. Our side’s voices need to be heard.

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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