Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley says he signed a gay marriage law because even “a 4-year-old knows the value of human dignity.”

At a Thursday signing ceremony held in Annapolis, O'Malley, who had championed the bill in his annual State of the State address and at committee hearings on the issue, said he supported marriage equality because he felt the state had an obligation to protect the children of gay couples equally.

“We are one Maryland and all of us at the end of the day want the same things for our children. We want them to live in a loving, caring and committed home that is protected equally under the law,” O'Malley told supporters.

In an op-ed published the next day by The Huffington Post, O'Malley expanded on the theme.

“During the debate in Maryland's House, I joined same-sex marriage supporters outside of the chambers who were anxiously awaiting the vote. I met two moms and their 4-year-old son Will. After standing for hours, Will was tired and seemed a bit uninterested. I could only imagine how hard it would be to understand the complex discussions as a 4-year-old.”

“But the next day I saw a photo of Will and his family taken right after the House voted in support of marriage equality. His little face was lit up with joy, and he was cheering as his moms hugged him with the love that only a mother can provide. Will may not have understood the debates, but his smile after the vote proved one very important thing: even a 4-year-old knows the value of human dignity.”

“Yesterday,” O'Malley added, “was a day for Maryland's children. It was a day for human dignity.”