December 20, 2012 at 11:34 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Md. lawmaker opposed to gay marriage charged in boating crash

Maryland Marriage Alliance, same sex marriage, gay marriage, gay news Washington Blade

Authorities have changed a lawmaker opposed to same-sex marriage in connection with an August boat crash. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A Maryland lawmaker who vehemently opposes marriage rights for same-sex couples faces charges in connection with an August boat crash that left him and six others injured.

The Baltimore Sun reported on Thursday the Maryland Natural Resource Police charged Del. Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel County) with operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, reckless operation of a vessel, negligent operation of a vessel, failing to register his boat and a rules-of-the-road violation in connection with the Aug. 22 incident on the Magothy River near Gibson Island that sent him, two other adults and four children to local hospitals. The newspaper said Dwyer could face a year in jail and pay up to $1,940 in fines if convicted.

Dwyer, who has been a member of the House of Delegates since 2003, admitted during a press conference outside a Baltimore hospital the day after the crash he was drinking before his boat collided with Mark “Randy” Harbin’s vessel.

“No one, no one should be drinking and operating a motor vehicle or power boat,” he told reporters from a wheelchair while wearing a neck brace and a bandage on his left foot. “I deeply regret my actions and ask for forgiveness from the public.”

Dwyer, 54, said in February before lawmakers approved the state’s same-sex marriage bill that the legalization of nuptials for gays and lesbians in Massachusetts in 2004 indoctrinated the state’s public school students on homosexuality. He has also introduced several measures that would have amended the Maryland constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

The Republican lawmaker in 2006 tried to remove Baltimore Circuit Court Judge M. Brooke Murdoch from the bench after she found Maryland’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. He also sought to impeach Attorney General Doug Gansler following his 2010 announcement that the state would recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in D.C. and other jurisdictions.

“I am regretful that I unwisely chose to operate a boat after drinking alcohol,” Dwyer said in a statement he released to the Baltimore television station WJZ and other media outlets after the Maryland Natural Resource Police charged him. “From the beginning I have admitted my error in judgment. I am grateful that DNR has finally concluded their investigation, and I am gratified that the findings do not reflect blame for the accident on me as is apparent in the resulting citations and the fact that the other operator was also charged.”

Dwyer further noted his boat “was struck and sank as a result of being hit in the left side” during the incident.

“I sincerely wish for the continued recovery of all injured,” he said. “I look forward to resolving this issue legally and moving forward. I ask forgiveness from the citizens who have looked to me to represent them with honor and integrity in the General Assembly, and I intend to prove my personal temporary difficulties did not and will not affect my ability to represent my constituents fully and completely with character and trustworthiness in the future.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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