BALTIMORE, Maryland, July 19, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The archbishop of Baltimore is warning Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley that he will have a vigorous fight on his hands if he tries to legalize same-sex “marriage.” The governor had announced Friday that he is making gay “marriage” a legislative priority, following the success of gay activists in New York.

“Maryland is not New York,” wrote Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore in a statement to LifeSiteNews Tuesday.  “During the 2011 session, Maryland lawmakers chose not to redefine marriage because they listened to their Maryland constituents and stood by their deeply-held moral convictions.”

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

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

The archbishop insisted, however, that marriage is “not a partisan issue or a question of civil rights; it is a foundational issue to our society.”

“Government’s interest in marriage has been to promote the procreation of children, protect the best method of raising children and therefore protect society for future generations,” he said.  “There are many ways to protect basic human rights; sacrificing marriage is not one of them.”

“The successful coalition that upheld the time-honored definition of marriage in Maryland, which includes many leaders of African-American churches throughout the state, remains intact and will continue to be vigorously involved in upholding marriage in Maryland,” said the archbishop.

O’Malley has suggested that the state model its gay “marriage” efforts after New York, particularly regarding the religious freedom protections that were ultimately included in the bill, which were crucial to its passage.

But critics of the New York bill warned that the religious freedom amendments are woefully insufficient, and will 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.

In fact, Gov. Cuomo has since 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.