Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley on Monday evening introduced a bill that would legalize gay marriage in the state.

O'Malley announced last spring that he would include the legislation in his 2012 legislative package.

A gay marriage bill sunk in the Maryland House of Delegates last year after clearing the Senate floor. A campaign against the bill focused mostly on objections from Christian conservatives.

Speaking Tuesday, O'Malley emphasized that his bill strikes a “balance” between individual rights and religious freedom.

“Yesterday, we submitted a marriage equality bill which balances equal protection of individual rights with the important protections of religious liberty and religious freedom,” O'Malley said. “The momentum is growing, and there is a lot of hard work to do. But we are going to be successful in this legislative session by recognizing the dignity in one another, by recognizing the common humanity that all of us share.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

The bill (SB 241) is scheduled to be debated next Tuesday, January 31 during a Senate Judicial Proceedings hearing. Debate will be limited to 4 hours.

The measure was introduced with 20 co-sponsors in the 47-member Senate.

Meanwhile, supporters of a marriage equality bill in Washington on Monday found their final vote needed for passage in Senator Mary Margaret Haugen. Hearings on the measure were also held in Senate and House committees.