Gov.Martin O'Malley said a federal court's ruling that California's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional could buoy his push to legalize the unions in Maryland.
O'Malley, a Democrat, said that the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision Tuesday will impact the debate in Maryland.
"I think there are some who — even given their opposition today — understand that over the long term the principle of equity, of civil rights, will ultimately prevail," O'Malley said. "I think this latest decision out of the 9th Circuit is further evidence of that understanding."
The governor learned of the 2-1 ruling during a forum on "Marriage Equality in Maryland" at the University of Baltimore School of Law.
O'Malley, a lawyer, declined to speculate on what action the Supreme Court might take. The lower court found that Proposition 8 — a measure approved by California voters in 2008 in an effort to limit marriage to one man and one woman – is unconstitutional.
The governor said it is too soon to know if his bill to legalize same-sex marriage will win passage in the Maryland General Assembly.
"We made some progress and more progress is needed," he said.
If the legislation is approved, O'Malley said, the matter likely would be put before the public in a referendum vote.
"The likelihood is that an issue as salient as this would be petitioned to referendum pretty quickly," he said.