When Maryland governor Martin O’Malley (pictured, left) announced he would sponsor a marriage equality bill, he was bucking pressure from the Roman Catholic archbishop of Baltimore, who said the action amounted to “promoting a goal that so deeply conflicts with your faith.”
The Baltimore Sun reports that Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien (right), in a letter dated July 20 and released Monday by O’Malley’s office, wrote, “I am well aware that the recent events in New York have intensified pressure on you to lend your active support to legislation to redefine marriage,” referring to the enactment of marriage equality in New York State. O’Brien continued, “Maryland is not New York. We urge you not to allow your role as leader of our state to be used in allowing the debate surrounding the definition of marriage to be determined by mere political expediency.”
Two days later, O’Malley, a Catholic, announced that he would introduce a marriage equality bill next year. Similar legislation passed the state Senate this year but was pulled from the House of Delegates because it did not have the support of a majority. O’Malley had said he would sign this year’s bill, but the fact that he is lobbying more actively for such a measure now is likely to help it pass.
In making his announcement, O’Malley said other states had found a way to provide equal marriage rights to gay couples while protecting the rights of those who object on religious grounds, and he was confident Maryland could do so.
Last week he responded to O’Brien, and the letter was made public Monday. “On the public issue of granting equal civil marital rights to same sex couples, you and I disagree,” O’Malley wrote. “As governor, I am sworn to uphold the law without partiality or prejudice. When shortcomings in our laws bring about a result that is unjust, I have a public obligation to try to change that injustice.”