On the eve of a historic vote on marriage equality, a member of Maryland’s legislature announced in an exclusive interview with the Washington Blade today that he is gay.
Del. Peter Murphy (D-Charles County), a divorced father of two who also has two grandchildren, said his colleagues and family have known for years that he is gay.
“I have never denied [being gay],” Murphy said, “I just presumed people knew.”
Murphy’s announcement brings to eight the total number of openly gay and lesbian members of Maryland’s legislature, the most of any state in the country. There is one openly gay state senator — Rich Madaleno — and now seven members of the House of Delegates.
Murphy said he’s confident the marriage equality bill will pass later this week, possibly in a final vote on Friday.
“As I have said all along, I think it’s a strong civil rights bill,” Murphy said. “I think it’s a fair bill because it also addresses the religious issue and doesn’t require any religious organization to practice something that goes against their teachings.”
Murphy represents a conservative part of the state, but said he’s not concerned about any backlash in making his sexual orientation public in the media.
“I’m not concerned,” he said. “People who know me know that I represent everyone in the district. I work hard to make sure that everyone has a voice and an opportunity to be heard.”
Asked if he would now join the Maryland LGBT Caucus, Murphy admitted he didn’t know that it existed.
“I just come here to do my work,” he said, “I’m not a big social person. I’ve never felt any pressure from anyone to be anything but what I am.”
He added that officials at Equality Maryland, the statewide LGBT rights group, have known for years that he’s gay and that he supports their issues. In addition to sponsoring the marriage equality bill, Murphy also supports the pending bill to ban discrimination in employment and housing based on gender identity.
“We’re so grateful to have Del. Peter Murphy among the LGBT Caucus of Maryland,” said Lisa Polyak, vice president of Equality Maryland’s board of directors. “We’re gratified that he’s a supporter of marriage equality and the gender identity bill. It shows that LGBT people live everywhere in the great state of Maryland, including in the Southern Maryland delegation. We’re always happy to have the support of Del. Murphy and now more so as a member of the LGBT Caucus.”
The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund also praised Murphy’s announcement.
“It’s still a courageous thing for public officials who are gay or lesbian to serve openly and honestly, so we applaud Delegate Murphy’s decision,” said Denis Dison, Victory Fund’s vice president of communications. “As we’ve seen during the current debate over marriage, out lawmakers can have a tremendous impact on both their colleagues and their constituents, and the Maryland LGBT Caucus has certainly been at the center of this fight.
“With eight openly gay and lesbian members of the legislature, Maryland now has the largest LGBT caucus of state legislators in the country.”
Murphy has been a member of the House of Delegates since 2007. He was born in Washington, D.C., and attended American University and George Washington University.