Same-Sex Marriage Bill Passes Maryland House of Delegates
A bill to legalize same-sex marriage won approval in the Maryland House of Delegates on Friday night, capping a dramatic turnaround from a year ago and all but assuring the measure will be sent to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) for his promised signature.
After a day of emotional and contentious debate, the Democrat-led House voted 71-67 in favor of the bill, sending it to the Senate, which approved a similar measure last year. No senators have announced plans to change their votes.
Maryland is poised to join seven states and the District in allowing gay nuptials, but opponents are widely expected to launch a petition drive that could give Maryland voters the final say on the November ballot.
The state’s move toward same-sex marriage comes amid a fresh wave of momentum nationally for gay-rights activists. Gay nuptials bills were signed by the governors of New York in June and Washington state this month. And just Friday, the New Jersey legislature sent Gov. Chris Christie (R) a same-sex marriage bill, which Christie promptly vetoed as he had promised to do.
In Annapolis, O’Malley and other supporters scrambled in recent days to nail down enough votes to avoid a repeat of last year when the legislation died on the House floor.
Their efforts were buoyed by the support of two Republican delegates who announced their support of the legislation just this week: Robert A. Costa of Anne Arundel County and Wade Kach of Baltimore County.
During Friday’s debate, supporters — including seven gay delegates in the chamber — hailed the measure as a major step forward in equal rights. Opponents decried the redefinition of “marriage” and said it was an affront to long-standing religious traditions.