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Gansler turns up heat in Md. gubernatorial race

Heather Mizeur, Maryland, Anthony Brown, Doug Gansler, gay news, Washington Blade

Attorney General Doug Gansler will face Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown and state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) in the June 24 primary. (Photo courtesy of the Washington Post)

Attorney General Doug Gansler this week attacked Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown’s record on LGBT rights ahead of the June 24 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Gansler repeatedly described Brown’s support for the same-sex marriage and transgender rights bills that Gov. Martin O’Malley signed in 2012 and last month respectively as “lukewarm” during an interview with the Washington Blade on Monday.

The attorney general questioned whether the lieutenant governor voted for the same-sex marriage law when it went before voters in a 2012 referendum. Gansler acknowledged that Brown testified in support of the trans rights bill in March, but suggested he could have done more.

“There’s the public and then there’s the behind the scenes,” said Gansler. “My understanding [is] he really didn’t lift a finger to help except show up that one day to testify.”

Brown defended his record in support of same-sex marriage during an interview with the Blade on Monday.

He stressed he worked with LGBT rights advocates to raise money for the 2012 campaign to defend the gay nuptials law at the ballot box. Brown pointed out to the Blade that he discussed his support for the issue during his first national television interview with MSNBC the year before.

Brown noted he also opposed efforts to define marriage as between a man and a woman while in the Maryland House of Delegates after gays and lesbians began to legally tie the knot in Massachusetts in 2004.

“We’re in the last week of an election and there’s a lot of comments that I think reveal desperation and a distortion or manipulation of the truth,” he said. “I can tell you that my commitment to marriage equality was long standing.”

Brown also reiterated his support for the trans rights bill, noting he spoke with “a number” of lawmakers and “coordinated my efforts with” Equality Maryland. He told the Blade he could not recall any specific conversations he may have had with state Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County) and other lawmakers who had previously voted against similar measures.

“I said identify for me where you think I could be most helpful,” said Brown, referring to his work with Equality Maryland to advance the bill. “It was all based on what we thought was the best strategy to try to get the votes and the support we needed.”

Gansler says Equality Maryland ‘traded’ Brown endorsement

Gansler also told the Blade he still believes Equality Maryland “traded” its endorsement of Brown for his support of the trans rights bill.

“That is what we were told,” Gansler told the Blade. “They endorsed somebody who did absolutely nothing on the issue of marriage equality. He took no steps in advancing the cause of marriage equality or any other LGBT rights [issue] as far as I can tell. He was visibly uncomfortable talking about the issue.”

Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans described Gansler’s claim as an “unfounded” and “untrue accusation.”

She noted the attorney general during his “on the record” interview with the Equality Maryland Political Action Committee last year questioned whether Brown voted for the same-sex marriage law during the 2012 referendum.

“The interview team was shocked to hear Gansler insinuate this and agreed that it did not bode well for Gansler’s ability to restrain himself and carry himself with integrity and dignity as our governor,” Evans told the Blade. “Moreover, for him to insinuate, twice, that Equality Maryland traded our endorsement for Brown’s support of [the Fairness for All Marylanders Act] is insulting.”

Gansler also told the Blade in response to a question about state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County)’s plan to legalize marijuana in Maryland that the Montgomery County Democrat is “not seen as a viable candidate in terms of the election.” He further suggested that a Republican could become Maryland’s next governor in November if Brown wins the Democratic primary because of his tax proposals.

“Voters want to hear about the issues, and are tired of these personal, baseless attacks from our opponents,” Mizeur’s campaign manager, Joanna Belanger, told the Blade on Tuesday. “That’s why Heather continues to see momentum as she runs a positive campaign focused on the issues that matter most to Maryland families and seniors.”

Gansler questioning Brown’s record on marriage rights for same-sex couples and trans rights comes as all three leading Democratic gubernatorial candidates continue to court LGBT voters ahead of next Tuesday’s primary.

The attorney general noted to the Blade that in 2008 he became the first statewide official in Maryland to back marriage rights for same-sex couples when he testified before a state Senate committee. State Del. Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel County) later tried to impeach him over the issue.

Gansler in 2010 wrote an opinion that said Maryland would recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions.

“I’ve never understood the arguments against marriage equality, so I thought it was the right thing to do,” said Gansler. “That’s why I ran for office; to stand up for things that I thought were unfair or unjust.”

Gansler submitted testimony in support of the trans rights bill. His running mate, state Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s County), co-sponsored an identical measure in the House of Delegates that state Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) introduced.

Mizeur, who could become the first openly gay governor in the country if she wins the general election in November, earlier this year testified in support of the trans rights bill before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

She and her running mate, Rev. Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Prince George’s County, who testified in support of same-sex marriage in 2012, marched in the annual Baltimore Pride Parade on Saturday. Brown’s running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, also took part in the event.

“[Coates] and I are focused on not making history, but making a difference,” Mizeur told the Blade during an interview earlier this month. “Delman and I are the representation to the end of identity politics that divides communities.”

Campaign finance reports indicate that Brown continues to maintain a significant fundraising edge over Gansler and Mizeur, who has accepted public campaign funds. Polls also show the lieutenant governor has a double-digit lead over his two Democratic rivals ahead of the primary.

Frosh a ‘firm ally’

The outcome of a number of other statewide and local races will likely be determined in the June 24 Democratic primary.

State Sen. Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery County) will face state Dels. Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore County) and Aisha Braveboy (D-Prince George’s County) in the race to succeed Gansler as attorney general.

Equality Maryland in April endorsed Frosh, noting the role that Evans said he played in securing passage of the trans rights bill in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Cardin earlier this year introduced a bill that sought to ban “ex-gay” conversion therapy to minors in the state.

“Brian Frosh has been a firm ally and leader on LGBT issues in the General Assembly,” said Evans. “He has the maturity, experience and commitment to be an effective advocate for the LGBT communities of Maryland as our next attorney general.”

State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) will square off against Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer in the 18th Senate District that includes Chevy Chase, Wheaton, Kensington and portions of Silver Spring and Bethesda.

George Zokle is running to represent House District 20 that includes Takoma Park and Silver Spring. Kevin Walling, Equality Maryland’s director of communications and development from 2008-2010 — a period when the organization faced serious financial difficulties — dropped his bid to represent House District 16 that includes Bethesda and Potomac.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund endorsed both men, along with Madaleno.

18
Jun
2014

Dwyer sentenced in drunken boating, driving cases

Don Dwyer, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland state Del. Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel County)

An anti-gay state lawmaker on Friday was sentenced to 60 days in jail after pleading guilty to two drunken boating and driving charges.

Retired Harford County Circuit Court Judge Emory Plitt, Jr., sentenced state Del. Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel County) in connection with an August 2012 crash on the Magothy River in Pasadena that left him, two other adults and four children injured. Dwyer on Friday also pleaded guilty to a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol after Anne Arundel County police pulled over his car on Route 100 in Pasadena in August.

Dwyer, 55, in May pleaded guilty to operating his boat while under the influence of alcohol.

The Anne Arundel County Republican was to have received probation under the plea deal he reached with prosecutors, but Anne Arundel District Court Judge Robert Wilcox rejected it. He sentenced him to 30 days in jail and a year’s probation and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine.

Dwyer appealed the sentence, but he once again pleaded guilty to the charge in August.

Dwyer, 55, has been among Maryland’s most outspoken opponents of marriage rights for same-sex couples.

He said before lawmakers in 2012 approved the state’s same-sex marriage bill that nuptials for gays and lesbians in Massachusetts indoctrinated the commonwealth’s public school students into homosexuality.

Dwyer 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. The Anne Arundel County Republican in 2010 sought to impeach Attorney General Doug Gansler, who formally announced his gubernatorial campaign last month, after he announced the state would recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions.

Dwyer told the Maryland Gazette in January that then-Del. Tiffany Alston (D-Prince George’s County) and two Republican delegates who voted for the same-sex marriage bill contributed to his alcohol abuse.

The Maryland Gazette reported Dwyer must begin serving his sentence by Nov. 9, but he is allowed to serve them consecutively and on weekends.

Plitt also sentenced the Anne Arundel County Republican to three years probation on the drunken boating charge. The Maryland Gazette said the judge also ordered Dwyer to complete an alcohol counseling program, attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and agree to random testing to prove he is not drinking.

The newspaper further reported Plitt agreed to suspend a $1,000 fine against Dwyer.

25
Oct
2013

Dwyer pleads guilty to boating while intoxicated

Don Dwyer, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

Don Dwyer (Photo public domain)

A Maryland lawmaker who vehemently opposes same-sex marriage on Tuesday pleaded guilty to operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol.

Del. Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel) entered the plea in connection with the August 2012 crash on the Magothy River in Anne Arundel County that left him, two other adults and four children injured. He had faced charges of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, reckless and negligent operation of a vessel, failing to register his boat and a rules-of-the-road violation.

WBAL Radio reported District Court Judge Robert Wilcox rejected the plea deal Dwyer had reached with prosecutors that would have given him probation. He sentenced him to 30 days in jail and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine.

Dwyer, 55, has been among Maryland’s most outspoken same-sex marriage opponents.

He argued before lawmakers approved the state’s same-sex marriage bill in February 2012 that the legalization of nuptials for gays and lesbians in Massachusetts indoctrinated the commonwealth’s public school students to homosexuality.

Dwyer 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. The Anne Arundel County Republican also sought to impeach Attorney General Doug Gansler following his 2010 announcement the state would recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions.

Dwyer, who separated from his wife of 31 years in late 2011, told the Maryland Gazette in January that then-Del Tiffany Alston (D-Prince George’s County) and two Republican delegates who voted for the same-sex marriage bill contributed to his alcohol abuse.

“That betrayal really affected me,” he said. “I was physically ill. You pour your heart into an issue like that and it’s devastating.”

Dwyer, who remains in an alcohol abuse treatment program, was to have reported to jail on Thursday.

He appealed Wilcox’s sentence.

14
May
2013

Anti-gay Maryland lawmaker charged with DUI

Don Dwyer, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland state Del. Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel County)

Anne Arundel County police early on Tuesday arrested for allegedly driving while under the influence of alcohol a Maryland lawmaker who vehemently opposes same-sex marriage.

A police report that WBAL in Baltimore obtained said officers stopped state Del. Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel County) on Route 100 near Edwin Raynor Boulevard in Pasadena at 12:42 a.m. It said Dwyer told officers he had had two beers earlier in the night at a tavern in Baltimore City.

The police report said the officer who arrested Dwyer “immediately noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath and person.” It also noted Dwyer’s speech was “very slow and slurred.”

Dwyer also failed three field sobriety tests.

Dwyer faces a charge of driving while impaired and other traffic offenses that include driving with an expired registration.

Dwyer, 55, said before state lawmakers approved a same-sex marriage bill in February 2012 the legalization of nuptials for gays and lesbians in Massachusetts in 2004 indoctrinated the commonwealth’s public students to homosexuality.

The Anne Arundel County Republican in 2006 tried to remove Baltimore Circuit Court Judge M. Brooke Murdoch after she found Maryland’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. Dwyer also sought to impeach Attorney General Doug Gansler, who is expected to declare his candidacy to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2014, after he announced in 2010 the state would recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions.

Dwyer links alcohol abuse to marriage vote

Dwyer’s arrest comes nearly a year to the day after a boat he was operating crashed into another vessel on the Magothy River in Anne Arundel County. The incident left him, two other adults and four children injured.

Dwyer in May pleaded guilty to operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol. He was to have served probation under a plea bargain he reached with prosecutors, but an Anne Arundel County judge sentenced him to 30 days in jail and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine.

Dwyer appealed the sentence, but entered a second guilty plea in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court early this month. A retired judge from Harford County who was brought in is scheduled to sentence Dwyer in October.

The Anne Arundel Republican told the Maryland Gazette in January that then-Del. Tiffany Alston of Prince George’s County and two Republican delegates who voted for the same-sex marriage bill contributed to his alcohol abuse.

“That betrayal really affected me,” Dwyer told the newspaper. “I was physically ill.”

Neither Dwyer nor his office immediately returned the Washington Blade’s request for comment.

20
Aug
2013

Md. lawmaker claims marriage votes spurred alcohol abuse

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

Del. Don Dwyer said lawmakers who backed the 2012 same-sex marriage bill contributed to his alcohol abuse. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A Maryland lawmaker told a local newspaper last week that legislators who voted for the state’s same-sex marriage bill contributed to his alcohol abuse.

Delegate Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel County) told the Maryland Gazette in an interview the newspaper posted to its website on Saturday that he felt “betrayed” when Dels. Wade Koch (R-Baltimore County) and Robert Costa (R-Anne Arundel County) and then-Del. Tiffany Alston (D-Prince George’s County) in Feb. 2012 backed for the measure that Gov. Martin O’Malley eventually signed into law. Alston and Koch voted against the bill while it was in committee, while Costa supported it.

“That betrayal really affected me,” Dwyer told the newspaper. “I was physically ill. You pour your heart into an issue like that and it’s devastating.”

Maryland Natural Resource Police last month charged Dwyer, 54, with operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, reckless and negligent operation of a vessel, failing to register his boat and rules-of-the-road violation in connection with an Aug. 22 incident on the Magothy River in Anne Arundel County that left him, two other adults and four children injured.

The Anne Arundel County Republican who has been a member of the House of Delegates since 2003 admitted to reporters the day after the crash that he was drinking before his boat collided with Mark “Randy” Harbin’s vessel. Dwyer admitted in a Jan. 8 post to his Facebook page that he is struggling with alcohol.

“In the past year I have faced both personal and professional challenges that were extremely difficult for me,” he wrote. “As a result, and regrettably so, I turned to alcohol to cope. As many of you know, this culminated in a serious boat accident in August when the boat I was operating was struck by another vessel. Though I am unable to discuss the accident itself due to the pending court case, I thought it important that I share with you the steps I have personally taken to address my problem with alcohol.”

Dwyer, who said in his Facebook post he “enjoyed beer or wine socially” before 2012, added he voluntarily entered and completed a treatment program. He said he remains “committed to attending extensive aftercare counseling” and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

“It is extremely difficult to lay bare a deeply personal issue in such a public way,” Dwyer said. “However, I believe it is the right thing to do, as I feel answerable to the folks who chose me to represent them in the legislature. I know you have been shocked and disappointed as a result of how I conducted myself. I don’t know if I am to be forgiven, but I certainly hope to regain your confidence.”

Dwyer, who also separated from his wife of 31 years in Nov. 2011, has been one of Maryland’s most outspoken opponents of marriage rights for same-sex couples.

He argued 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 to homosexuality.

Dwyer, who has introduced several measures that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman in the Maryland constitution, in 2006 tried to remove Baltimore Circuit Court Judge M. Brooke Murdoch from the bench after she found the state’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. The Anne Arundel County Republican also sought to impeach Attorney General Doug Gansler following his 2010 announcement that the state would recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions.

Dwyer did not return the Washington Blade’s request for comment about his Jan. 8 Facebook post. He wrote, however, is “committed to renewing my focus to defending personal liberty, property rights and Second Amendment rights.”

14
Jan
2013

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.”

21
Dec
2012