Gov. Martin O'Malley said he will sponsor gay marriage legislation.
The Democrat made the announcement Friday at a news conference to discuss how he will support legislation in the next regular session of the General Assembly in January.
The governor has said he has been looking at how New York approved legislation that included protections for religious freedom.
“Marylanders of all walks of life want their children to live in a loving, stable, committed home -- protected under the law," O'Malley said in a statement. "As a free and diverse people of many faiths, we choose to be governed under the law by certain fundamental principles or beliefs, among them 'equal protection of the law' for every individual and the 'free exercise' of religion without government intervention. Other states have found a way to protect both these rights. So should Maryland."
Same-sex marriage legislation passed the Maryland Senate this year, but it stalled in the House of Delegates.
The Maryland Catholic Conference said it was disappointed to hear about O'Malley's decision.
In a letter to the governor, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, chairman of the Maryland Catholic Conference, said the state should maintain its recognition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
In a statement, the Maryland Catholic Conference said that "the moral and social impacts of redefining marriage would be pervasive and severe. Stripping marriage of its unique connection to parenthood disregards the reasons why government has always elevated marriage over all other relationships as the fundamental building block of society.
"Treating heterosexual and same-sex relationships differently is not unjust discrimination," the statement continued. "Upholding the truth of marriage furthers the rights and equal dignity of all human persons by promoting a social fabric where children can benefit from the unique gifts of a mother and a father."