In 2002, Richard Madaleno became the first openly gay person elected to the Maryland General Assembly. Write’s Madeleno in today’s Washington Post:
It was important to me to be straightforward about who I was while not being pigeonholed as “the gay guy.” I immersed myself in my role as a public servant, focused on my constituents and worked hard. As time passed, people began to see me as “the budget guy,” or as an advocate for education, addiction treatment or developmental disability programs, or simply as Rich. My colleagues also came to know my husband, Mark.
Madaleno and his husband are registered to receive the few domestic partnership benefits provided under state law currently, but he’s seeking the more than 400 state benefits offered only to legally married couples.
This year and last, with 52 of my colleagues, I introduced legislation to allow people to enter into civil marriage contracts regardless of gender. Unfortunately, this bill has yet to appear on a voting list in either chamber. This legislative inertia doesn’t have to be the end of the story, as I will explain in a moment. But, at a personal level, it has caused me to rethink this basic aspect of my public service: Until more legislators are willing to stand with me, there is no question that I must speak on behalf of my family and the thousands like us. As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Truth ….. must be clothed with flesh and blood, or it cannot tell its whole story.”
Madaleno has introduced the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act. Read the full op-ed here.