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“We acknowledge we fundamentally disagree on that question,” Mr. Pierce said, “but it doesn’t have to dissolve into being uncivil. … We treat each other with as much respect as anybody.”

He said he had only one conversation with Mr. Bates on the marriage issue last year, recalling that the Republican had told Mr. Pierce not to take the repeal effort personally.

“I said, ‘Of course it’s personal. You want to delegitimize my relationship with my partner of 18 years, and my two kids,’” Mr. Pierce recalled.

Mr. Bates, whose repeal bill is now scheduled for consideration next year, said he and Mr. Pierce work together well in the Legislature despite “diametrically opposed opinions on marriage.”

As for the impact of Mr. Pierce’s 2009 speech, Mr. Bates said, “It played upon the sympathies of individuals who don’t think the matter through.”

According to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which recruits and supports gay political candidates, the number of openly gay and lesbian legislators nationwide has increased from 44 in 2003, when it started counting, to 85.

Chuck Wolfe, the fund’s president, said gay legislators were having an impact even in relatively conservative states where gay marriage has no short-term prospect of winning approval. He cited the example of Arkansas state Rep. Kathy Webb, whose heartfelt arguments played a role in the rejection of a bill to bar gays from adopting or foster-parenting.

Gay lawmakers “are people, as opposed to issues,” Mr. Wolfe said. “The impact of having one of your colleagues directly affected by the legislation on the table is very powerful.”