Maryland Governor to actively support gay marriage bill modeled after New York

Martin O'Malley

Martin O'Malley

Maryland‘s Governor Martin O’Malley (D) on Friday said that he was prepared to lead a more aggressive campaign to pass a measure legalizing same-sex marriage.

Martin O'Malley

The Governor told reporters at a press conference that he would borrow elements of the strategy used by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and marriage equality supporters in the Empire State to sponsor and pass a gay marriage bill when the Maryland Assembly’s upcoming 2012 legislative session begins next January.

O’Malley said that his inspiration was the successful negotiations and maneuvering by Cuomo and New York legislators to get past legislative hurdles.

“I think every state tries to learn — I think we all try to learn from one another, I’m sure there were things that they learned from our inability to get this done,” O’Malley said. “And similarly we will learn from what they did.”

During his 2010 reelection campaign for governor, O’Malley told constituents that he would work to enact marriage equality while in office.

After a narrow losing fight in the Maryland House of Delegates when the marriage equality legislation was withdrawn, he said this next round means a more central role for the governor.

“What can we try differently that we haven’t already done in order to get this passed,” he said. “We thought the right approach last time was to allow a less partisan space to resonate around the issue.”

A key Republican supporter of the efforts that failed to pass that measure has said that he believed Republicans could provide needed crucial votes, but only if O’Malley invested his political capital in courting conservatives and protecting Republicans who would vote for the bill.

In the legislative victory in New York, Cuomo lobbied Republican legislators, many of whom were privately torn over societal and religious implications of legalizing same-sex marriage.

Those same law makers were also threatened politically by influential players within the GOP– particularly the leaders of the state’s Conservative Party, along with considerable outside pressure brought to bear by anti-gay special interest groups such as the National Organization for Marriage, Focus on The Family and the Family Research Council.

Ultimately, Cuomo’s alliance with key Republican donors, and his own personal popularity, helped insulate Republicans from political pressure. The strength of the religious protections added as a compromise in the final version of the New York bill were the decisive factor to help passage.

Maryland’s gay rights groups, for their part, are consolidating under a new banner as well, another key feature of the Cuomo approach in New York. They’ve also joined forces with labor unions, who can provide manpower and an out-of-the-box organizing apparatus, and sympathetic religious organizations. A similar collaboration proved the difference in New York, where the campaign for same-sex marriage marriage had previously been characterized by power struggles and infighting.

Because Maryland’s legislature only meets for three months a year, the next opportunity to push for same-sex marriage legislation will come in January, just as the 2012 presidential election ramps up. President Obama has carefully avoided taking a firm position on the question of same-sex marriage, subtly indicating his support to influential gay rights groups while keeping a safe distance from the issue in public appearances so as not to alienate moderate or culturally conservative voter.

via PBS

Late today Equality Maryland, the state’s leading LGBTQ advocacy group who had helped lead the efforts in the 2011 legislative session, in a press release, said, “Like the majority of Marylanders, the Governor recognizes that marriage equality will only serve to strengthen all Maryland families. We look forward to celebrating with him on the day that all loving and committed couples have equal access to the protections and rights of civil marriage in our state.”

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