Former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) predicts that a law allowing same-sex marriage in Maryland will suffer a “decisive defeat” on the November ballot.

Former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R). (Bill O'Leary — The Washington Post)

Ehrlich’s position — and his forecast for November — are both at odds with that of his successor, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who signed Maryland’s gay nuptials law last month. O’Malley has predicted that voters will uphold the law.

Opponents are currently gathering signatures to put the issue before the public. Under the Maryland constitution, citizens can petition just-passed laws to the ballot, and both sides expect same-sex marriage is headed there.

In his column, Ehrlich suggests that the law will be rejected by “a coalition of Catholics, African-American, Hispanics and conservatives from both sides of the aisle.”

Recent public polling has shown that state almost evenly divided over the issue.

Ehrlich also argues that same-sex marriage proponents are on “shaky ground” when they cast the issue as a matter of civil rights.

“Civil rights protections have traditionally attached themselves to groups possessing intrinsic characteristics: gender, ethnicity and race come to mind,” Ehrlich wrote. “In the real world of human sexuality, however, it’s far more complicated. Many argue that sexual orientation is intrinsic, but the inconvenient fact remains that some individuals change their sexual orientation.”