Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Friday confirmed plans to sponsor a same-sex marriage bill during the next legislative session and acknowledged a good deal of work must still be done to pass it.

O’Malley (D), a Catholic who supported civil unions earlier in his political career, said a gay nuptials bill would be “one of the handful of bills that will be an administration priority” in January.

“At the end of the day, I think all of us need to look at this issue from the eyes of children of gay, committed couples and ask ourselves how one family could be protected less in the eyes of the law than another family,” O’Malley said at a news conference in Annapolis. “I don’t think that’s an injustice that can be allowed to stand.”

A same-sex marriage bill passed the Senate last session but fell short in the House of Delegates. O’Malley was supportive of the bill but his lobbying efforts were largely confined to private conversations with lawmakers.

Particularly since passage of a same-sex bill in New York, gay lawmakers in Maryland have urged O’Malley to play a larger role in the coming year.

The Maryland Catholic Conference immediately released a statement Friday calling O’Malley’s decision “regrettable.”