Maryland Senate approves same-sex marriage

PHILADELPHIA Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:14pm EST

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PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The Maryland State Senate passed legislation on Thursday night to allow same-sex marriage.

The Civil Marriage Protection Act, approved by the heavily Democratic Senate on a 25-21 vote with strong support from the majority party, would effectively legalize gay marriage without forcing religious clergy to conduct marriages of which they disapproved. It had narrowly passed two preliminary stages of approval.

Senator Richard S. Madaleno Jr., a Montgomery County Democrat and the senate's first openly gay member, hailed the vote as historic.

"It demonstrates our commitment to civil rights and equality to all," he said in an email to supporters. "The House of Delegates should act swiftly to provide loving families across our state with the dignity and respect we deserve."

He said the bill is the same as a similar act in Washington, D.C., in that it exempts religious leaders from performing ceremonies if they object to same-gender marriage.

The next step is up to the Maryland House, expected to begin a hearing on the bill on Friday.

One House member, Heather Mizeur, another Montgomery County Democrat, believes her party is probably a couple of votes short of having 71 absolute commitments for the bill.

The Democrats hold a 98-43 majority in the House, but Mizeur says some party members are reluctant to vote for the bill because of religious beliefs, or because they are concerned about narrow margins of victory in the last election.

Still, Mizeur, also openly gay, said: "I have every confidence that when the votes are counted we will win."

Opponents of the bill could not be reached immediately for comment.

Maryland would become the sixth state to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry if the legislation is approved and signed into law.

The senate vote came a day after President Obama told the Department of Justice to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act opposing same-sex marriage because he believes it is unconstitutional.

(Additional reporting by Wendell Marsh; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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Comments (4)
wolfboi1970 wrote:
WOW, thats GREAT!!! Good for Maryland… and I like that they aren’t forceing it on religious leaders… its a fair, equal, yet respectful of others version of the law. Now come on Pennsylvania!!! I think we have too many hate filled hicks here though. Its funny how so many people can be against bills that have ABSOLUTELY NO EFFECT ON THEM WHAT SO EVER, and are filled with such hatered. The thought of allowing another living breathing taxpaying neighbor the same right they have, to marry the one they love, to be given the same rights a spouse has when it comes to the laws and regulations in life, it seems silly that someone would care about a law like this because it only effects the ones who want it, and harms nobody. LEAD BY EXAMPLE MARYLAND, AND GOD BLESS THE PEOPLE OF MARYLAND FOR ELECTING GOOD POLITICIANS!!!

Feb 25, 2011 3:54am EST  --  Report as abuse
AUREO wrote:
Anti-natural unions damage society and make people unhappy and frustrated.

Feb 25, 2011 10:24am EST  --  Report as abuse
Dysperdis wrote:
AUREO: You’ve just described a good chunk of heterosexual marriages right there.

Feb 26, 2011 12:54am EST  --  Report as abuse
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