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Maryland lawmaker claims marriage votes spurred alcohol abuse

MICHAEL K. LAVERS | Washington Blade
Monday, January 14, 2013
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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.

Donald Dwyer

“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.

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