March 9, 2011 at 9:42 am EST | by Kevin Naff
EXCLUSIVE: Md. lawmaker comes out

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.

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

  • I applaud Del. Peter Murphy for coming out. It is important that even if his friends and other legislators knew before that he is now open and proud before all the people of the State. His coming out is another indication to young people that being gay or lesbian is no impediment to being a successful human being. Congratulations to Mr. Murphy.

  • Congrats to Del. Murphy for coming out publicly. He is an example that one can live true to self among those to whom it matters, and an example of a politician-who-is-gay rather than a gay-man-as-politician. He’s come out when it would make a point, yes – but before this – what did being gay have to do with him representing his contituents? Nothing. Represent the issues, do yer job. Unless it’s going to affect how you vote to reflect your constituents (looking at VA Rep. Jim Moran who abstains on several issues that clash between his RCC faith & liberal district), your gender/race/faith/orientation should be a non-issue.

  • Resident of Charles County

    Where was this news at back in November, Sir? You know, BEFORE election day. We don’t buy this B.S. about “you thought we already knew”. I can’t wait to vote you out, Sir.

  • As a constituant of Del. Murphy I am proud of him for coming out in this important time, however, I think it is important you do your research! Charles County does not have a single Republican elected official, and is certainly not the “Conservative part of the State”. It feels like you assumed because we were in the South of the State that we must be redneck farm country, when in fact it is a growing a relatively progressive community. The “Conservative part of the State” is more the Eastern Shore or Western Maryland.

  • I admire Mr. Murphy for his candor and openess.This is a very important time for the advance of gay rights in America, Again, you can be gay and successful

  • If only the other gay legislators would come out. Its an open secret that Dyson is gay. He was sexually involved with Pappas, an aide to Dysons predecessor Baumann. And Dyson almost always votes against gay issues.

    The chief homophobe – well I heard second hand from kids who know his kids., His kids think he is “crazy” I also know someone who called on this man several decades ago when he worked in the electromic industry. And thre report from his co-workers called him strange.

    Also, there have been persistent rumors that he danced half naked in the Atlantis bar some years ago, when it was a gay bar. this is all very suggestive that he is just another ted haggard, the guy who ranted against gays, and got outed by his gay male prostitute

    Another delegate – another homophobe – he has several characterisitics that I have only seen in gay people. Its all part of gaydar, which some gay friends have taught me about, walking around DC many times.

    None of this is proof, but tell me that there isnt a good posibility. Especially in light of the scene re Minister Ted haggard and many others around the country like it.

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