In 1996, just after Burns took office, a Gallup poll showed the nation was strongly opposed to same-sex marriage. In fact, up to half of the people who described themselves as being "liberal" said they were opposed to legal same-sex marriage in their state, the poll found.
Still, generational differences were already apparent, as the poll found "only 54 percent of those ages 18 to 29 oppose it, while 66 percent of those ages 30 to 49, 78 percent of those 50 to 64, and 80 percent of those 65 or older oppose gay marriages," according to a Baltimore Sun story from the time.
Following the Supreme Court's ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act last month, the Pew Research Center found 45 percent in favor of the ruling versus 40 percent against it. Those younger than 30 approved of the decision by a nearly two-to-one margin.
This follows a broader shift. Another recent Gallup poll found fifty-three percent of Americans believe same-sex marriages should be recognized by law. That number stood at 27 percent in 1996.
Still, Burns said he has often heard from constituents who say they appreciate his stance. And he believes, despite the polls, that the nation will eventually come back around to share that stance.
"I believe that time will tell that I was right," he said.
For a look back, here are some quotes of Burns' from The Baltimore Sun's archives:
"I am unalterably opposed to same-sex marriage, and I have been very aggressive in my opposition to same-sex marriage.” – 2013, after being disciplined by the House of Delegates using legislative letterhead to try to silence a Baltimore Ravens player who was vocally supporting same-sex marriage.
"I get really bent out of shape when you talk about gay and lesbian rights as a civil rights issue. Whites can hide their gayness; I cannot hide my blackness." – 2007, on comparisons between the gay rights movement and the broader Civil Rights movement.
"Gays and lesbians of the majority race have always had rights that I didn't have. They are not a minority like I am. I think it's more choice." – 2002, on why he voted against a gay rights bill the year prior.
"What this bill does is tear up the schools. It goes beyond acceptance. It's forcing an agenda on young people." – 2000, about a bill to establish protections for gay students in Maryland schools.
"If I want to hire someone who is gay or not hire them, I ought to have that right without being sued because of it." He added: "And I don't want to improve the chances for someone who is of gay persuasion to ply their behavior." – 1999, on a bill against workplace discrimination against gay and lesbian employees.
"I'm not homophobic," Burns said in an interview. "I have no animosity toward them. I would say go forward and make love -- in private. But don't go down to the courthouse and ask for a license for public approval of your relationship." – 1996, on any effort to extend benefits to gay couples in Maryland.