At the end of this week, or the beginning of the next, Gov. Martin O’Malley — the chair of the Democratic Governor’s Association — is preparing a bold push for gay marriage rights in Maryland.
In a sit-down interview with TPM at DGA headquarters in downtown Washington, DC, O’Malley explained what’s changed since the last time Maryland tried to enact marriage equality, and why he plans to be at the front of the issue this time around.
“There is a broad coalition of people coming together — broader than we had in the last session,” O’Malley said. “And this coalition is encouraged by the fact that our neighbors in New York found a way to protect religious freedom and the quality of marital rights at the same time…. Sometimes in the history of our Republic, fundamental rights appear to eclipse each other for a time, and this is one of those times, and we need to sort it out.”Last session, O’Malley took a backseat to assembly members, on the theory that his imprimatur would make the issue more polarizing and scare off Republican members. In the end, Republican votes never materialized, Dems got scared off and the initiative failed. This time, he’s choosing a different strategy, eyeing the tactics Gov. Andrew Cuomo used to pass marriage equality in New York — including, perhaps, his appeal to influential conservatives who happen to support gay rights.
“Sure,” O’Malley said. “I think every state tries to learn — I think we all try to learn from one another. I’m sure there were things that they learned from our inability to get this done. And similarly we will learn from what they did.”
That means a more central role for O’Malley himself “What can we try differently that we haven’t already done in order to get this passed,” he said. “We thought the right approach last time was to allow a less partisan space to resonate around the issue.”
Left unaddressed in our interview was the extent to which base mobilization ahead of the 2012 elections has factored into his plans. But I asked him whether he’d made the decision to see the issue through and push hard even if things fall apart again.
“Yes,” he said.