Del. Heather R. Mizeur, one of eight openly gay legislators in the Maryland General Assembly, didn’t understand why a gay-rights group wouldn’t endorse her campaign for governor.
In a statement released by her campaign, Mizeur (D-Dist. 20) of Takoma Park said it was “puzzling” that Equality Maryland would back Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, one of her rivals in the 2014 Democratic primary.
All three major Democratic gubernatorial candidates — Brown, Mizeur and Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler — had comparable positions on issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, said Tim Williams, chairman of Equality Maryland’s political action committee. However, Equality Maryland felt Brown showed the best ability to lead and be effective as governor and in getting support for the organization’s legislative issues, Williams said.
Brown and Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) helped push for the legislature’s approval of same-sex marriage. Mizeur was an active supporter, too.
The General Assembly approved same-sex marriage during the 2012 legislative session. Voters affirmed the law through a referendum in November 2012.
Gansler was one of the first statewide officials in Maryland to speak publicly in favor of same-sex marriage. In 2010, he issued an opinion that Maryland should recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states where it is legal.
Brown campaign manager Justin Schall said the campaign was “very proud” to get the endorsement from Equality Maryland.
“Equality is something the lieutenant governor feels very strongly about,” Schall said.
Schall said both Brown and running mate Ken Ulman have helped lead the fight on LGBT issues, and he said he believes the Equality Maryland endorsement validates their work.
Equality Maryland is highly respected around the state, and its opinion matters, he said.
Mizeur, whose running mate is the Rev. Delman Coates, was disappointed.
“It’s a puzzling choice, given our records,” the statement from her campaign said. “No one in this race has done more for the LGBT community than the Mizeur-Coates ticket. I’m not sure what more we could have done to earn their support.”
Gansler spokesman Bob Wheelock said in an email Thursday that despite the Equality Maryland endorsement, the LGBT community is aware of Gansler’s leadership and commitment to its causes.
“Ultimately what matters most is [the] vote of the individual,” Wheelock wrote in an email. “We are confident that Doug’s record on fighting for and protecting the rights and safety of the LGBT residents of Maryland will factor into the voters’ decision in the Democratic primary and on Election day.”
Williams said Equality Maryland submitted questionnaires to Democratic and Republican candidates.
So far, no Republicans have returned the forms as of Thursday, he said.
The candidates who did return their questionnaires met with members of the organization for 60- to 90-minute interviews covering their past support for the LGBT community, support for issues at the state level and issues such as their political experience, support, fundraising and endorsements, he said.
All three Democratic candidates have been supporters and friends of the LGBT community, Williams said.
The community is not monolithic, and Mizeur and Gansler each have their supporters within it, he said.