The Washington Times - July 19, 2011, 07:15PM

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley could announce by the end of the week whether he plans to sponsor a same-sex marriage bill in next year’s General Assembly, an administration official said Tuesday afternoon.

The announcement follows Mr. O’Malley, Democrat, saying at a national governor’s conference in Utah over the weekend that he would push hard for a same-sex marriage measure in Maryland next year if it mirrors legislation that passed in New York after changes were made to protect religious freedom, reported the Associated Press.

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Earlier Tuesday, while Mr. O’Malley was at an event in Washington — one his first official, public appearances since his comments in Utah — he did not take questions from a Washington Times reporter, who wanted to know why he made the comments out of state.

Same-sex marriage legislation passed in the state Senate during the 2011 General Assembly session, but died in the House, due to resistance from Republicans and many socially conservative Democrats.

O’Malley critics said the governor was not vocal or support enough. The administration said he governor worked hard behind the scenes.

O’Malley spokeswoman Raquel Guillory said Tuesday the governor is even considering sponsoring next year’s bill, but has yet to decide whether he will do so.

Gay marriage has returned to the forefront in Maryland after New York’s passage of a gay-marriage law last month. The effort was led largely by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat who successfully lobbied undecided Democrats and four Republican senators for support.