The daughter of the second-most powerful Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives has announced she is gay.
Stefany Hoyer Hemmer, whose father, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, recently endorsed marriage equality, came out publicly as a lesbian this week in the hope of bolstering support for gay marriage in her home state of Maryland, which is shaping up as a national battleground for same-sex nuptials.
“My father, as you know, just came out in support of gay marriage,” Hemmer told the Washington Blade. “I’m 43 years of age, and I’ve been gay my whole life and I just figured this is a good time to lend my name to the cause.”
“The momentum in Maryland right now for the adoption of the gay marriage law is fast-paced,” she added.
Though Maryland legalized same-sex marriage in March, the law does not go into effect until January, leaving time for gay-marriage opponents to obtain a statewide vote on its repeal this November. Activists working to annul the law have collected more than twice the signatures needed for a referendum, the Baltimore Sun reported last month.
In announcing his support for marriage equality, Hoyer compared efforts to block gay marriage to laws that prohibited mixed-race marriages in an earlier era.
“One of the first votes I cast as a member of the Maryland State Senate in 1967 was to repeal the anti-miscegenation statute that remained Maryland law,” Hoyer said in a statement. “It was my feeling then and now that individuals have a right to choose their partners, and society must accord them that freedom.”
Hemmer, who lives with her partner of 18 months on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, says her father’s gay-marriage stance inspired her to come out. “I was not the impetus for him; he was the impetus for me,” she told the Blade.
For his part, Hoyer says he is proud of his daughter’s decision. “As more people speak out, the more momentum this effort gains to give every family the dignity and respect they deserve,” Hoyer said in a statement.
The minority whip is not the only prominent politician to endorse same-sex marriage in the Old Line State. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has a lesbian daughter and owns a home in Maryland, reportedly reached out to GOP legislators in February to urge their support for the marriage equality bill.
from The New York Daily News