A Great Danish American Birthday - Steny Hoyer

  • June 14, 2022
  • June 14, 2023
  • 2 sessions
  • June 14, 2022 (CDT)
  • June 14, 2023 (CDT)

A GREAT DANISH AMERICAN BIRTHDAY - STENY HOYER

Steny Hamilton Hoyer (born June 14, 1939) is an American attorney and politician serving as U.S. Representative for Maryland's 5th congressional district since 1981 and as House Majority Leader since 2019. A Democrat, he was first elected in a special election on May 19, 1981, and is currently serving in his 20th term. The district includes a large swath of rural and suburban territory southeast of Washington, D.C. Hoyer is the dean of the Maryland Congressional delegation and the most senior Democrat in the House.

Since 2003, Hoyer has been the second ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives behind Nancy Pelosi. He is a two-time House Majority Leader, having previously served in the post from 2007 to 2011 under Speaker Pelosi. During two periods of Republican House control (2003–2007 and 2011–2019), Hoyer served as House Minority Whip, both times under Minority Leader Pelosi. As a result of the 2018 midterm elections, in which the Democrats took control of the House, Hoyer was re-elected Majority Leader in January 2019 on the opening of the 116th Congress, remaining the number two House Democrat behind Speaker Pelosi.

Hoyer was born in New York City, New York, and grew up in Mitchellville, Maryland, the son of Jean (née Baldwin) and Steen Theilgaard Høyer. His father was Danish and a native of Copenhagen; "Steny" is a variant of his father's name, "Steen". His mother was an American, with Scottish, German, and English ancestry, and a descendant of John Hart, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He graduated from Suitland High School in Suitland, Maryland.

In his early years at the University of Maryland College Park, Congressman Hoyer held a 1.9 grade point average. His attitude towards school and politics changed after hearing a speech from John F. Kennedy prior to his election in 1960. In 1963, he received his B.A. degree magna cum laude from the University of Maryland, College Park, where he also became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He earned his J.D. degree from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., in 1966.

Hoyer has three daughters, Anne, Susan, and Stefany, from his marriage to Judy Pickett Hoyer, who died of cancer in February 1997. In 2012, after Hoyer announced his support of same-sex marriage, his daughter Stefany Hoyer Hemmer came out as a lesbian in an interview with the Washington Blade.

His wife was an advocate of early childhood education, and child development learning centers in Maryland have been named in her honor ("Judy Centers").  She also suffered from epilepsy, and the Epilepsy Foundation of America sponsors an annual public lecture in her name.  Hoyer, too, has been an advocate for research in this area, and the Epilepsy Foundation presented him in 2002 with their Congressional Leadership Award.

Hoyer serves on the Board of Trustees for St. Mary's College of Maryland and is a member of the board of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, a nonprofit that supports international elections. He is also an Advisory Board Member for the Center for the Study of Democracy.


National Foundation for Danish America
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Wilmette, Illinois 60091

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