Maryland First Lady Catherine Curran O’Malley said Thursday night that legislation to legalize same-sex marriage fell short last year because of “some cowards.”

The first lady’s assessment, in remarks at a national conference of gay-rights advocates in Baltimore, comes as her husband is championing a similar bill in this year’s 90-day legislative session.

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) unveiled legislation this week that seeks to make Maryland the seventh state in the nation, in addition to the District, where same-sex marriages are legal.

In welcoming remarks at the 24th National Conference on LGBT Equality, Katie O’Malley noted her husband’s efforts and said of last year’s bill: “We didn’t expect things that happened to the House of Delegates to occur, but sadly they did, and there were some cowards that prevented it from passing.”

Her comments, reported Thursday night by the Associated Press, were confirmed by aides who described the first lady as very passionate about the issue. The line about “cowards” was not part of Katie O’Malley’s prepared remarks, which were later shared by the governor’s office.

In her remarks, which aides said largely were delivered as prepared, Katie O’Malley, a district court judge in Baltimore, says that the conference attendees “chose the perfect week to come to Maryland,” noting the introduction of her husband’s bill.

“We all want the same thing for our kids,” she says in the prepared remarks. “We all want our children to live in loving, stable, committed households that are protected equally under the law. No child should be punished because he or she happens to live in a state that doesn’t recognize the love that his or her parents share. It’s about equal rights for everyone, no matter who they are, or who they love.”

Last year’s legislation, which Gov. O’Malley supported but did not sponsor, narrowly passed the Senate before unexpectedly falling short in the House of Delegates, traditionally the more liberal chamber on social issues.

The bill ran into resistance among some delegates from Prince George’s County, who cited opposition from black churches in their districts. The legislation also proved a hard sell among more conservative Democrats from Southern Maryland and the Baltimore suburbs.

Upon unveiling this year’s bill, the governor stressed reworked ”religious exemptions” that he said make it explicit that the bill is not attempting to infringe upon religious freedoms.

Gov. O’Malley is scheduled to speak Sunday at the same conference as his wife. Other speakers Thursday included NAACP President Benjamin Jealous and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D).

This post has been updated.