Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer's (D-Md.) daughter publicly came out of the closet as a lesbian on Wednesday in an interview published by the Washington Blade.
"My father, as you know, just came out in support of gay marriage," his daughter, Stefany Hoyer Hemmer, told the Blade, a Washington, D.C.-based newspaper that focuses on LGBT issues. "The momentum in Maryland right now for the adoption of the gay marriage law is fast-paced. 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."
Hemmer's father was, briefly, the lone top Democratic congressional leader not in favor of same-sex marriage. Hoyer waited two days after President Obama announced his support for the measure -- and one day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) followed suit -- to publicly announce his support of gay marriage. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had previously supported gay marriage, while Hoyer had favored only civil unions for same-sex couples.
Hemmer said that she first broached the topic with her mother before coming out to her father in 2003 by showing up to his house with a girlfriend.
"He was very welcoming," she told the Blade. "Of course, my sister had prepped him. He was not the least bit shaken or upset and very pleasantly just a nice guy. He's always been respectful of my privacy, so unless I initiate a conversation with him about pretty much anything that's private, he doesn't get into my personal business, which I respect. But he's been great."
Hemming said she partially decided to come out to the broader public so she could help advocate for Maryland's same-sex marriage law, which will likely face a referendum this fall. The law, which was signed in March, made Maryland the eighth state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage.
A majority of likely Maryland voters support the law, according to a poll released May 24 by Public Policy Polling. But the Maryland Marriage Alliance, a coalition working to defeat the law, said last week that it collected 113,000 voter signatures for the referendum -- more than double what is required to put it on the ballot.
Hemmer said that she expects her father to also fight against the referendum.
"I think I will initially be an adjunct to him," she told the newspaper. "I will go places with him and maybe speak, but I think that role will evolve. Basically, I’m here and what do you think I can do for you."
Below, a slideshow of reactions to Obama's same-sex marriage views:
"I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman," Mitt Romney said.
"This is a major turning point in the history of American civil rights," said New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. "No American president has ever supported a major expansion of civil rights that has not ultimately been adopted by the American people - and I have no doubt that this will be no exception. The march of freedom that has sustained our country since the Revolution of 1776 continues, and no matter what setbacks may occur in a given state, freedom will triumph over fear and equality will prevail over exclusion. Today's announcement is a testament to the President's convictions, and it builds on the courageous stands that so many Americans have taken over the years on behalf of equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans, stretching back to the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village."
"I applaud President Obama for announcing his support for marriage equality today," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) "For the first time in this nation's history, a sitting president has shown the courage and leadership to stand up for all American families by pledging to support the fundamental right of every person to marry the person they love, and to have that marriage fully respected. I commend President Obama for this brave and honest step. Those who seek to politicize civil rights for personal or political gain will certainly attack him, but the course toward marriage equality and justice is the correct and inevitable path."
"I'm thrilled!" longshot GOP presidential candidate Fred Karger told HuffPost, referring to Obama's embrace of marriage equality. Karger is the first openly gay Republican or Democrat to run for president. "The Karger pressure has worked," he joked. "Particularly after the defeat in North Carolina, we welcome him to the full equality position."
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen
Senator Chris Coons
"I have been blessed to have a long and happy marriage. I strongly believe all Americans deserve that same opportunity," said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.)
"While President Obama has played politics on this issue, the Republican Party and our presumptive nominee Mitt Romney have been clear. We support maintaining marriage between one man and one woman and would oppose any attempts to change that," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Christine C. Quinn
"Barack Obama just announced he supports same-sex marriage," Mike Huckabee wrote in a fundraising appeal to supporters. "Nancy Pelosi immediately jumped on the announcement and emailed Democrat activists nationwide promising to continue their fight. This is going to be a defining issue this election. Obama, Pelosi and the Democrats have been a complete failure on economic issues so now they are going to focus on issues that will rile up their base. Well, Mr. President it's going to rile up our folks also. Men and women who support traditional marriage."
Rep. Bill Taylor
"President Obama's support for marriage equality marks an important moment for civil rights in America," said Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), who co-sponsored legislation that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). "We simply can not treat same sex couples as second-class citizens in our country. Marriage equality is one of the most significant civil rights battles of our time and is critical to guaranteeing the equal protection under the law promised to every American in the Constitution. The President's support for marriage equality should inspire Congress, Governors and state legislatures to advance civil rights for all Americans."
Ann McLane Kuster
Sen. Patrick Leahy
"This is an historic moment and I applaud the President for his decision and courage," Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said. "One of the greatest and most liberating human emotions is acceptance. And what the President did today was accept that the quality of love two people share is more important than their gender. The President's decision required him look within and engage his heart. It is truly wonderful and welcome news."
Senator Patty Murray
"As an early and strong proponent of Marriage Equality, I am very happy that President Obama has made this announcement," said Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) "Marriage Equality is a matter of basic human rights and all of America's same-sex families are now closer to having their unions recognized by our government. This is an important step in our country's march toward achieving true justice and equality for all."
"President Obama's public support for marriage equality is an historic affirmation of the fundamental American value of equal rights for all," said Howard Dean. "Having signed the nation's first law allowing Civil Unions as Governor of Vermont, I'm also proud to see our president affirm the belief that I and so many other Americans hold: loving and committed couples should have the same benefits that are extended through marriage. Marriage equality is a right and a benefit to all families."
Senator Ben Cardin
Sen. Barbara Boxer
Senator Dick Durbin