Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley on Friday announced he will sponsor a gay marriage bill in the next regular session of the General Assembly in January.

The governor made his remarks at a 2PM press conferences in Annapolis.

“Marylanders of all walks of life want the same thing – for their children to live in a loving, stable, committed home – protected under the law,” he tweeted to his more than 8,500 followers.

“In the 2012 legislative session, I will sponsor legislation that protects religious freedom & equality of marital rights under the law,” he added moments later.

Gay marriage proponents launched a renewed campaign earlier this month.

The moves come less than four months after a marriage bill was suddenly shelved in the Maryland House after passage in the Senate.

Backers had called on the Democratic governor, who supported this year's bill, to take on a more visible role in advocating for marriage equality in the state.

Last week, O'Malley said he would strongly back the new push which is modeled after New York's successful effort. In that campaign, Governor Andrew Cuomo played a critical role in advocating for the law's passage. Gay and lesbian couples in New York begin marrying on Sunday.

If approved, Maryland would become the seventh state to legalize gay marriage. Gay couples can also marry in the District of Columbia.