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Seeking to take a similar leadership role, Mr. O'Malley hinted to attendees at a Democratic conference this month in Utah that he could sponsor a Maryland bill if it had the same religious protections.

Maryland’s failed bill this year included similar protections. But the governor and legislators said they will make it a greater priority to emphasize that aspect of the legislation next year, when asking support from other assembly members, residents and even religious groups.

Miss McIntosh said lobbying efforts also could take on a more passionate, personal tone. She felt supporters were too subtle in this year’s assembly session and relied too much on behind-the-scenes work rather than personal testimony.

She said she expects activists and legislators now to speak more openly about the importance of gay marriage to their gay friends, colleagues and family members.

“We’re coming out, and we want to be out front with a large, incredible coalition,” Miss McIntosh said. “That’s what gets this over the hump. That’s when we can put a more visible face on the importance of marriage equality.”

Mr. O'Malley’s staff members will lead the crafting of the bill, which will be formally introduced Jan. 11, when the General Assembly begins its regular session.