Irish will back same-sex marriage, says likely US president contender

Ahead of visit to Dublin, Democrat Martin O’Malley thinks referendum will be passed

Former mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland Martin O Malley, who is speaking at a number of engagements in Ireland today and tomorrow. Photograph: David Sleator

Former mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland Martin O Malley, who is speaking at a number of engagements in Ireland today and tomorrow. Photograph: David Sleator

 

Irish-American politician Martin O’Malley, an expected contender for the Democratic party’s 2016 presidential nomination, has said he believes the Irish people will vote Yes in the same-sex marriage referendum.

The liberal Democratic former mayor of Baltimore and governor of the state of Maryland is a strong supporter of equal marriage rights.

He led the passage of same- sex marriage legislation in Maryland in 2012 and has been calling for a similar measure nationally in the United States, describing the right to marry as “a human right”.

Speaking ahead of a visit to Dublin today*, Mr O’Malley, a regular visitor to Ireland, told The Irish Times at a Democratic Party convention in South Carolina that he expects Ireland’s same-sex marriage referendum to pass.

“All of us should be free to practise whatever religion we choose, but I think all of us can agree that there is dignity in every child’s home and every child’s home should be protected legally under the law,” he said.

“That was the conclusion that the people of Maryland came to at the ballot and I think that’s what the Irish people will conclude as well.”

The 52-year-old Democrat is expected to announce his candidacy for his party’s presidential nomination next month, possibly at an event in Baltimore, the city he ran as mayor from 1999 to 2007. His tenure as governor of Maryland ended in January, after he completed a two-term limit.

Trailing well behind former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, the only Democrat to announce a presidential bid so far, in the polls, Mr O’Malley has criticised her shifting position on same-sex marriage.

The former first lady said this month she would support a constitutional amendment permitting same-sex marriage, a change from last year when she said individual states should decide.

The US Supreme Court will hear arguments today in a case that experts believe could pave the way for same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

World affairs

Mr O’Malley has a number of engagements today. He is speaking at Dublin law firm Byrne Wallace on Ireland’s role in world affairs, on renewable energy at the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and on the relationship between Ireland and the US at a dinner hosted by accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Tomorrow, at a breakfast hosted by IBM, Mr O’Malley will speak about his work on cyber security.

A talented musician and fan of Irish music, the former governor has his own Irish rock band, O’Malley’s March. He said on Saturday he didn’t know whether he would be bringing his guitar on this trip.

*Hours before his scheduled arrival in Dublin, Mr O’Malley cancelled his Irish trip to return to the US in response to the violence in Baltimore following the funeral of a black man, Freddie Gray, who died on April 19th after being injured in police custody.