November 1, 2013 at 6:38 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Sam Arora announces he will not seek re-election

Sam Arora, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland Del. Sam Arora (Courtesy photo)

A controversial Maryland lawmaker who voted against a bill that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples in his state on Friday announced he will not seek re-election in 2014.

“When my term of office concludes in January 2015, I plan to return full time to my work in the private sector,” state Del. Sam Arora (D-Montgomery County) said in an e-mail to supporters that Maryland Juice obtained. “Fighting for you in the House of Delegates is an extraordinarily rewarding experience, and I am honored anew each day by the opportunity to serve you. After my term, I look forward to continuing to advocate for working families, job growth and better government as a private citizen.”

Arora, who campaigned in support of nuptials for gays and lesbians in Maryland during his 2010 campaign to represent District 19 that includes Silver Spring and portions of Rockville and Gaithersburg, co-sponsored a same-sex marriage bill at the start of the 2011 legislative session.

The Montgomery County Democrat’s subsequent vote against the measure that Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law in 2012 sparked outrage among LGBT rights advocates–and prompted his then-legislative director to resign.

Arora earlier this year pointed out during an interview on “News Talk with Bruce DePuyt” on News Channel 8 that he, Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith (D-Prince George’s County) and then-Del. Tiffany Alston of Prince George’s County introduced a proposed amendment to the gay nuptials bill that would have replaced marriage with civil unions.

The House Judiciary and Health and Government Operations Committee tabled the proposal.

“I’ve talked to a lot of voters about it… I wanted full legal equality,” Arora told DePuyt in response to a question that David Moon of Maryland Juice asked during the aforementioned interview. “I originally thought that this bill was the right way to go. I then said I think there’s a different way to go and I proposed an amendment and that wasn’t the way the state ended up going, which is fine. The voters have approved this and now we move forward.”

Maricé Morales, an aide to state Sen. Roger Manno (D-Montgomery County), and Melodye Berry have both announced their candidacies to represent District 19. Others are expected to formally declare their own bids in the coming weeks and months.

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

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