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Maryland governor, archbishop at odds over same-sex marriage

Local Washington DC

Mary Bubala, CBS Baltimore

Just days before Gov. O'Malley held a news conference to announce plans to sponsor a same-sex marriage bill, he received a strongly worded letter from Baltimore's Archbishop Edwin O'Brien—urging him to reconsider.

"With great concern I write to urge you to refrain from using the power of your office to promote the redefinition of marriage in Maryland," Archbishop O'Brien wrote. "We speak with equal intensity and urgency in opposition to your promoting a goal that so deeply conflicts with your faith."

The governor's reaction: "I think every citizen [is] entitled to their own opinion on matters such as these, and I respect those differences of opinion."

In a letter back to the archbishop, the governor wrote "when shortcomings in our laws bring about a result that is unjust, I have a public obligation to try to change that injustice."

He wrote, "I have concluded that discriminating against individuals based on their sexual orientation in the context of civil marital rights is unjust." And he added, "I have also concluded that treating the children of families headed by same-sex couples with lesser protections under the law than the children of families headed by heterosexual parents, is also unjust."

O'Malley announced July 22 that he will make legalizing same-sex marriage a top priority by sponsoring a bill in Maryland's 2012 legislative session. This year, same-sex marriage legislation passed the Maryland Senate, but the measure stalled in the House of Delegates. After a debate, the House sent the bill back to committee after it was determined it was a few votes short.

We have heard of the separation of church and state, but for many democratic Catholic politicians it's a fine line when it comes to issues like abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

For many years, Gov. O'Malley seemed aligned with the Catholic Church—often stating he believed marriage is between a man and a woman.

Sometime in the past year, his views changed.

On Tuesday, Catholics headed to noon mass at the basilica reacted to the governor's support of same-sex marriage.

"I disagree. I would hope that in the future that he will change, have a change in heart and come back to the true stability of what marriage is," said Richard Dolan, a local Catholic.

"He's not obedient to the word of God, I would say that," said Lois Lee, a local Catholic.

The Vatican and U.S. bishops say pro-choice politicians should not receive communion. But so far, there hasn't been the same reaction for Catholic politicians who support same-sex marriage.

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