ANNAPOLIS, Maryland, July 18, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has set the passage of same-sex “marriage” as a legislative priority for next year, after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s success last month.

“I certainly plan to be very active in support of it, and we’ll have other announcements in upcoming months,” Gov. O’Malley said Friday at a meeting for the National Governors Association in Salt Lake City.

A Maryland same-sex “marriage” bill passed the State senate in February, but it failed in the House of Delegates in March.  Gov. O’Malley had promised to sign it if it been approved by the House.

But now O’Malley has pledged to step up his efforts, following Gov. Cuomo’s example.  “There are times in Annapolis when a governor’s support can move an issue over the goal line,” he said.

“I think we can learn from what they did [in New York],” he added. “One of the things we’re looking at in the drafting is how their clauses with regard to religious freedom were different from ours. That might improve our efforts.”

The late addition of religious freedom protections was crucial to the bill’s success in New York.  But critics warned that the the amendments were woefully insufficient, and would not protect faith-based groups from being forced with the choice of going out of business or violating core beliefs, as has happened in other states.

Gov. Cuomo has signaled that town clerks should resign if their consciences will not allow them to sign same-sex “marriage” licenses, and Nassau County’s district attorney has threatened criminal prosecution of any clerks that refuse to sign the licenses.