Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and two Democrats seeking to succeed him voiced their support for same-sex marriage at a fundraiser Wednesday night for the state’s leading gay-rights advocacy group.
O’Malley, who has pledged to sponsor a gay nuptials bill in next year’s legislative session, cast the issue in terms of “protection of families” in his remarks at the event in Chevy Chase benefiting Equality Maryland.
“At the end of the day, we don’t want one set of laws for children of gay and lesbian couples, and one set of laws for children of heterosexual couples,” the governor said. “This is about making sure that every family in Maryland is able to raise their children in a loving and stable home, a home that is respected equally under the law.”
O’Malley, who earlier in his political career supported civil unions as an alternative to same-sex marriage, asked the crowd of about 200 to be respectful of those whose positions might still change.
“Even people that do not yet agree with us on this issue, there’s a lot of goodness in each and every individual, and we need to engage in that goodness,” O’Malley said.
A same-sex marriage bill passed the Maryland Senate this year but died in the House of Delegates, where supporters said they were a couple of votes short. O’Malley said this year he would sign the bill if it reached his desk, and at the urging of gay-rights advocates, he has promised to play a more visible role next year.
The event, for which tickets started at $50, also underscored the support for the issue among Democrats seeking to succeed O’Malley, who his term-limited, in 2014.
Two leading candidates — Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) and Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) — also spoke at the event.
Two others — Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (D) — did not attend but helped raise money for Equality Maryland, an organization that has sought to regain its financial footing in recent months.
Gansler, who was the first statewide elected official in Maryland to voice support for same-sex marriage, argued Wednesday that gay-rights advocates are well-positioned to succeed if the issue is ultimately decided by the state’s highest court.
That is because O’Malley has appointed some new judges to the Court of Appeals since it last affirmed Maryland’s current law, which limits marriage to a man and a woman, Gansler said.
“Clearly, the current law is not constitutional,” he said.
Brown, who spoke out more vocally on same-sex marriage than O’Malley during the past legislative session, said he is hopeful that Maryland will soon move beyond the “modest advances” it has made to date in protecting the rights of same-sex partners.
“Marriage equality is right, it’s just, and it’s about protecting families,” Brown said.
The event drew heavily from surrounding Montgomery County, including County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) and at least 15 members of its legislative delegation to Annapolis.
“We have so much of the legislature here tonight that I almost think we should pass marriage here,” joked Chevy Chase Mayor David Lublin, an Equality Maryland board member who served as master of ceremonies for the evening, which ended with the serving of wedding cake.