In Maryland, O’Malley supported a similar measure that fell short during this year’s legislative session but, unlike Cuomo, largely limited his advocacy to private conversations.
O’Malley made no mention of same-sex marriage in his agenda-setting State of the State speech in early February and did not highlight his support in news conferences, as he did with legislation to jump-start Maryland’s wind-energy industry and other priorities.
“It was great to have his support in 2011, but we need his leadership in 2012 to get it done,” said Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery), who is openly gay. “Governor O’Malley was an advocate for us behind the scenes this year, but we all recognize that we can’t run another closeted campaign for marriage equality in the next session if we want to win.”
Mizeur and other advocates are asking O’Malley to make same-sex marriage part of his legislative agenda in January — a move that would signal he intends to put the weight of his office behind it.
O’Malley spokeswoman Raquel Guillory said Monday that it is too early to say which bills the governor would sponsor next year and declined to speculate on what form his advocacy might take. She pledged only that O’Malley would continue to work with gay-rights advocates “to make sure that equal rights under the law are protected, enforced and expanded, including signing a same-sex marriage bill when it passes.”
Maryland’s gay nuptials initiative passed the state Senate in late February only to unexpectedly stall in the House of Delegates, traditionally the more liberal chamber on social issues. As black churches in Prince George’s County and other foes stepped up their opposition, several delegates grew uneasy about the legislation.
The bill was also a hard sell among some Democrats in more conservative districts in Southern Maryland and the Baltimore suburbs, and only one Republican in the legislature supported the measure.
Advocates say they were two votes shy of passage when the bill got to the full House. Facing defeat, lawmakers pushing the legislation chose to send it back to a committee to keep the measure alive.
Supporters of the Maryland legislation say there are several lessons to be learned from New York, which Friday became the sixth and largest state where gay couples will be allowed to wed. They can also marry in the District.
“The key differences were probably the infusion of a lot of money and the determination of a governor to use every political tool at his disposal,” said Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery), a leading bill sponsor.
A lobbying campaign orchestrated by Cuomo’s office was funded in part by well-heeled Republican donors. Cuomo was also able to persuade enough Republican lawmakers — four — to push the bill through the GOP-led Senate.