O'Brien urged O'Malley against backing gay marriage
In the days before Gov. Martin O’Malley announced his support for same-sex marriage, Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien privately urged him against “promoting a goal that so deeply conflicts with your faith.”
“Preserving the central role of the natural family unit has always been — and should continue to be — the reason why our government recognizes marriage as existing between one man and one woman,” the archbishop wrote to the governor in a letter dated July 20.
Two days later, O’Malley said he would introduce legislation next year to allow gay couples to marry.
“As a free and diverse people of many faiths, we choose to be governed under the law by certain fundamental principles or beliefs, among them ‘equal protection of the law’ for every individual and the ‘free exercise’ of religion without government intervention,” O’Malley said. “Other states have found a way to protect both these rights. So should Maryland.”
A same-sex marriage bill cleared the state Senate this year, but it was pulled from the House floor after vote-counters determined they were a few delegates shy of a majority. With O’Malley’s active support, backers are hopeful of success next year.
O’Malley, who is Catholic, opposed same-sex marriage when he first ran for governor in 2006. He said at the time that he had been “raised to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
His announcement last month came weeks after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that made New York the sixth state to allow gay couples to marry — and enjoyed a boost in his national profile.
“I am well aware that the recent events in New York have intensified pressure on you to lend your active support to legislation to redefine marriage,” O’Brien wrote, in a letter released Monday by the governor’s office.
“Maryland is not New York,” O’Brien wrote. “We urge you not to allow your role as leader of our state to be used in allowing the debate surrounding the definition of marriage to be determined by mere political expediency.”
O’Malley responded to O’Brien last week. In a letter dated Aug. 4 and released by his office on Monday, he listed the many areas in which they agree, including efforts to eradicate poverty, support for a progressive income tax and opposition to the death penalty.
“But on the public issue of granting equal civil marital rights to same sex couples, you and I disagree,” O’Malley wrote.
“As governor, I am sworn to uphold the law without partiality or prejudice. When shortcomings in our laws bring about a result that is unjust, I have a public obligation to try to change that injustice.”