02/08/2012 01:17 pm ET

Prop 8 Decision: Martin O'Malley Says He Hopes Ruling Will Help Maryland Gay Marriage Push

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) said he hoped Tuesday's ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that declared California's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional would influence legislators as he seeks to pass a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in his state.

"I think it is the latest evidence this current of our nation's history always moves forward to greater protection of the freedom of individuals and that was what was stake in that decision," he told MSNBC's Al Sharpton Tuesday, who has cut an ad in favor of gay marriage in Maryland. "Granted, that was in California, but it interpreted a Constitution that all of us live under."

"I hope that it will have a persuasive influence on those delegates who are still open-minded and in order to persuade them to vote for our bill," said O'Malley. "Our bill protects religious freedom and it also protects individual liberty, in this case the right of any individual to marry whomever they choose."

A gay marriage bill passed the Maryland Senate last year but died in the House. O'Malley has vowed to pass legislation this year during the 90-day session.

Tuesday's ruling declared Proposition 8, which passed in 2008 with 52 percent of the vote, unconstitutional. The court's majority ruled that the measure "serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples." Experts say that the narrowness of the ruling to California made it less likely that the Supreme Court would take the case.

O'Malley also reacted to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) stance that he favors gay marriage being put to a referendum in his state but would veto a bill legalizing the measure. "I think Gov. Christie sounds like he wants to have his cake and eat it too," he said, adding that he believed that the best way to deal with the issue was through the legislature.



Click through to see past gay marriage victories:

Proposition 8 Ruling: A Look Back At The Year In Gay Rights (PHOTOS)