BY CURTIS TATE, MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS
BALTIMORE — With momentum building in several states to give same-sex couples the right to marry, and with legislators and voters alike rallying to their side, supporters of gay marriage feel good about 2012. But along with gains, there could be setbacks, and it's far from clear how the issue will play in a presidential election year.
Gay rights supporters won a huge victory last year when New York state legalized gay marriage with bipartisan support, doubling overnight the number of same-sex couples who could marry. Four states — Illinois, Hawaii, Delaware and Rhode Island — enacted civil union laws, giving gay couples many of the same rights and protections afforded by marriage.
Currently, six states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage, and Maryland, Washington state, New Jersey and Maine could next join the list. However, there are still more than two dozen states with voter-approved constitutional amendments that ban gay marriage, and voters in Minnesota and North Carolina will decide this year whether to enact similar prohibitions.
On Sunday, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, made a full endorsement of same-sex marriage at a conference in Baltimore of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which works to promote grassroots activism.