The overtures — most of them long shots — underscore how closely divided the General Assembly remains over same-sex marriage, which was the subject of an emotional, 101
2-hour hearing Friday that drew politicians, families and clergy to Annapolis.
O’Malley’s coordinated outreach also comes from a recognition that in the last two states to approve same-sex marriage legislation — New York last summer and Washington last week — the votes of a small number of Republicans were pivotal.
“It could well prove true here as well,” O’Malley said in an interview. “We are still pushing, talking and having conversations with people in both parties who may have open minds.”
A month into this year’s 90-day legislative session, no Republican in the House has publicly committed to backing the bill, despite the overtures from O’Malley, his aides and lawmakers working to pass the bill.
Last year, Sen. Allan H. Kittleman (Howard) was the only one of 12 Republicans in the Senate to vote for a same-sex marriage bill that narrowly passed his chamber. None of the 43 House Republicans voiced support for the bill, which was pulled from the floor before it could come to a vote.
Supporters have sought to appeal to the libertarian leanings of some of their GOP colleagues and have pointed to polling data that show growing acceptance of same-sex marriage among younger voters.
A Washington Post poll last month found that 35 percent of Republicans in Maryland support legalizing same-sex marriage, compared with 57 percent of Democrats.
The level of GOP support statewide has not been reflected in the legislature, in part because of the way the state’s districts are drawn, lawmakers and analysts say. Most Republican members represent solidly conservative areas.
A few GOP lawmakers, including Del. Patrick N. Hogan (Frederick) and Del. Robert A. Costa (Anne Arundel), who represent relatively moderate districts, have acknowledged that they are wrestling this year with the interplay between government and religion on the issue.
“I’m conflicted,” said Hogan, who as a Catholic was taught that marriage should be between a man and a woman. “While I believe we should provide couples rights, I don’t know about using the word ‘marriage.’ ”
Costa said “I haven’t taken a position one way or another” in an interview Thursday night, during which he said he would pay close attention during Friday’s hearing.
Most of their Republican colleagues say they are firm “no” votes. Those include Del. Justin D. Ready (Carroll), who, at 29, is the youngest Republican member of the General Assembly.