Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Equality Maryland, the state’s leading gay-rights organization, endorsed Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) for governor on Monday, saying he and his running mate would be the most effective advocates for the group’s interests.

The organization, which also endorsed 36 legislative candidates, noted that the two other major Democratic candidates for governor — Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Del. Heather Mizeur (Montgomery) — have enthusiastically supported same-sex marriage and other Equality Maryland priorities.

Gansler in 2008 became the first statewide official to back gay nuptials, speaking out four years before the legislature acted. Two years later, he issued an opinion that Maryland should recognize same-sex unions performed in other states and that state agencies should afford gay married couples the same rights that heterosexuals enjoy.

Mizeur, who is openly gay, was a leader in the legislative battles over same-sex marriage in 2011 and 2012.

Brown was also an outspoken proponent of the legislation, which Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) sponsored in 2012, and Brown’s running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (D), was supportive as well.

Carrie Evans, the executive director of Equality Maryland, said the group made its endorsement after soliciting questionnaires and meeting with the leading candidates.

“After meeting with the three declared Democratic candidates, we believe that Anthony Brown and Ken Ulman will be the most effective Governor and Lieutenant Governor for Equality Maryland’s issues and for the citizens of Maryland,” Evans said in a statement.

The group posted a list of endorsed legislative candidates on its Web site. All of the endorsed candidates supported the 2012 same-sex marriage legislation.

Equality Maryland said it expects to announce a second round of endorsements in the future.

Brown has dominated the endorsement process in the early stages of Maryland’s 2014 race for governor. The Democratic primary is in June.