ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Gov. Martin O’Malley said Friday he will push harder for a same-sex marriage measure in Maryland next year if it mirrors legislation that passed in New York after changes were made to protect religious freedom.

“I think we can learn from what they did,” O’Malley, a Democrat, said while attending the National Governors Association meeting in Salt Lake City. “One of the things we’re looking at in the drafting is how their clauses with regard to religious freedom were different from ours. That might improve our efforts. And I certainly plan to be very active in support of it, and we’ll have other announcements in upcoming months.”

O’Malley said he is talking with a broad coalition that has formed around the issue.

Gay marriage legislation passed the Maryland Senate this year, but stalled in the House of Delegates. The House sent the bill back to committee after it was determined it was a few votes short.

While O’Malley said he would have signed the bill this year if it had passed, he did not include it in his list of legislative priorities. Now he said he believes he can help make more of a difference in another try.

“There are times in Annapolis when a governor’s support can move an issue over the goal line…. This is one of those issues that can be resolved, as New York showed, with proper protections in place for religious freedoms,” O’Malley said.

Religious exemptions were critical to the New York measure’s passage. That bill was changed so that state and local governments could not penalize or withhold benefits from a religious institution or a nonprofit under its control for barring access to same-sex ceremonies.

In Maryland, same-sex marriage supporters rekindled debate on the issue this week by announcing the new coalition to push for passage next year. Their announcement brought a swift response from opponents, who vowed to return to Annapolis to keep Maryland’s marriage laws unchanged.

Opponents underscored the state’s mechanism for voters to petition legislation to the ballot, a petition process currently being used by opponents of separate legislation that would allow in-state tuition for illegal immigrants under certain circumstances.

State Sen. Richard Madaleno, a Montgomery County Democrat, said he met with the governor to discuss same-sex marriage legislation.

“The governor is interested in understanding the differences in the bill that passed the Maryland Senate, the new law enacted in New York and what religious exemptions are elsewhere in the country,” Madaleno, an openly gay lawmaker, said.

Madaleno also said the legislation is still very much under discussion.

“I think there are many people who are hopeful that the governor will decide to introduce this bill next year,” Madaleno said.

Joe Bryce, O’Malley’s chief legislative officer, said the administration is having internal discussions about legislation and meeting with lawmakers.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (2)
  1. Summer says:

    O’malley is just like any other wishy washy politician who cares only about getting votes for his next election. When our state actually had a sound gay marriage bill that protected religious freedom he said he’d sign the bill if the house passed it, but also encouraged a petition to put it on the ballot to let the people vote…why?? Because he didn’t care about the issue then and he doesn’t care now…his advisors just told him to wise up to the trends of americans and support it so he can hopefully be on a presidential ballot in the near future. I’ll be glad when he’s out of annapolis; he’s not doing anything to help our state, only to help is own agenda

  2. Realist says:

    O’Malley expressing support of a gay marriage bill? Is that news? Is that a surprise to anyone? He doesn’t care at all – he doesn’t care about the gay marriage issue, he doesn’t care about his stand on abortion? Ask him his stand on both of these issues when he’s coming out of St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis after 5:30 Mass or coming out of 11:00 Mass at St. John Neuman. He’ll do anything to further his political career.

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