Delaware Governor Jack Markell has said he expects the state will consider legalizing gay marriage next year.

“I think it probably will,” Markell told The Huffington Post's Amanda Terkel and Sam Stein.

The Democratic governor strongly supported last year's effort legalizing civil unions in the state. Markell said he was willing to offer similar support for a gay marriage bill before praising the contributions of Equality Delaware, a group which formed specifically to lobby in favor of civil unions.

“I think it's always important to have gubernatorial leadership, but the other thing it's very helpful to have – the real hero of getting civil unions done [in Delaware] – was not me,” he said. “The real hero and heroine were a couple of people who led a group called Equality Delaware.”

“The grassroots efforts can be so powerful. So there was a group of people – many of them gay or lesbian but many of them not – who lobbied the heck out of this and they did it all over the state,” said Markell. “I think having that group of people who were willing to work very very hard with my support is what it will take.”

Other states where marriage equality could be on the legislative agenda next year include Illinois and Rhode Island.