BALTIMORE — Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley — who has said legalizing marriage equality is a high priority for his administration — underscored a need for rational thinking and polite public discourse over the issue in a speech Sunday at the 24th National Conference on LGBT Equality.
“It’s important not to let passionate views prompt people to use words of hurt, rather than words of healing,” O’Malley said.
“Laws matter, but words also matter, and if compassion and understanding and justice are what we want, then we must choose laws and we must choose words of compassion, understanding and of justice,” he added.
The Democratic Governor acknowledged that his call for understanding and justice was, in fact, touched off by remarks made by his wife, First Lady Katie O’Malley, during her speech at the open of the conference last Thursday.
Katie O’Malley, a sitting Baltimore District Court judge, told attendees, “there were some cowards that prevented it from passing,” referring to last year’s failed efforts in the Maryland State House to legalize same-sex marriage — the bill had passed the state Senate last year, but stalled in the House of Delegates.
In a statement issued Friday, Katie O’Malley said that she regretted the comment, although some lawmakers in Annapolis were unimpressed with her apology.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, the Governor said his wife feels “very badly” about the comment.
Governor O’Malley has re-crafted the language of the marriage equality bill to more carefully address concerns raised last year in respect to religious freedoms, and said he believes momentum in support of the bill is growing.
“I think there is a much broader coalition in support this year,” O’Malley said. “I think as we progress, more and more people appreciate that the protection of individual rights and the protection of religious freedom are intertwined, and they are part of the effort that all of us share to reflect in our laws a more perfect union.”
The National Organization for Marriage and a coalition of churches, including Bishop Harry Jackson — who has led efforts to oppose same-sex marriage in the neighboring District of Columbia — held a rally in Annapolis on Monday opposing same-sex marriage
Hearings on the bill are scheduled be held Tuesday.