mizeur marriageNumerous national and statewide groups will lobby the Maryland state legislature this month on the question of marriage equality, but the personal relationships built  by seven openly gay and lesbian members of that legislature may have as great an impact, according to recent news coverage of the issue.

“While it’s love that makes a family, it’s marriage that protects a family,” said Delegate Heather Mizeur, an out lesbian, at a press conference announcing the introduction of the marriage equality bill.  Mizeur is part of the Maryland’s caucus of openly LGBT state legislators, whose ranks grew by three members this year, just in time for the marriage push.  She married her wife, Deborah, in California in 2008.

Legislators who have worked with people like Del. Mizeur say having colleagues who would be directly affected by the marriage bill makes it harder to vote against it.

“I would probably think that having members of the General Assembly who are very well-respected people that you work with every day, that you have relationships with, I think it makes it difficult to say to them that you don’t deserve the same rights that I do. I think that might have something to do with it,” said Del. Eric M. Bromwell, who has signed on as a sponsor of the bill for the first time.  Bromwell was speaking to the Maryland Gazette.

Sen. Richard Madaleno, who became the first openly gay state legislator in Maryland when he was elected to the Assembly in 2002, is now the only out member of the Senate.  Madaleno told the Baltimore Sun his presence, and that of his husband and children during special events at the State Capitol, have helped his colleagues understand what it would mean to the state’s same-sex couples to have equal marriage rights.  ”They realize, wow, you guys really are the same.  Our marriage is just as wonderful and mundane as everybody else’s,” said Madaleno.

More from the Sun article:

Family is at the heart of Sen. Richard Madaleno’s drive to make gay marriage lawful.

On the desk in his Senate office is a snapshot of his partner, Mark Hodge, smiling up from a street-side cafe in Dublin, Ireland. Nearby are pictures of the couple’s adopted 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son.

“This,” the Montgomery County Democrat said, picking up the framed photo of Hodge, “is why changing the law is important to me.”

Photo:  Carolyn Watson Photography (via the Maryland Gazette)