Maryland advances gay marriage bill on Valentines's Day

Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:36pm EST

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(Reuters) - A joint panel of the Maryland legislature approved on Valentines's Day a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, adding to national momentum for gay nuptials following advances in California, New Jersey and Washington state over the last week.

Committee approval of Governor Martin O'Malley's bill on Tuesday moves Maryland closer to becoming the eighth state to legalize gay marriage.

The House of Delegates' Judiciary Committee and the Health and Government Operations Committee approved the measure 25-18 in a joint vote, a judiciary panel spokeswoman said. The measure is expected to go to the full House on Wednesday, she said.

A similar bill died in the House last year following opposition from several African-American lawmakers. O'Malley, a Democrat, said he had rallied support for the measure and needed only a handful of extra votes to secure passage this year.

The Maryland Senate, which passed the bill last year, was expected to consider the measure as early as Friday, said Senator Brian Frosh, head of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

The Maryland vote came one day after Washington became the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage, although the law will not take affect until June at the earliest. The law may also face a ballot initiative in November sought by opponents.

New Jersey's Senate also approved a gay marriage bill on Monday, with the lower house expected to vote on Thursday. Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, has promised to veto the measure.

Last week, a federal appeals court declared a voter-approved gay marriage ban in California unconstitutional, opening the way for the restoration of same sex marriage in the nation's most populous state.

The seven states which have legalized gay marriage are New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut and Washington state. The District of Columbia also has legalized same-sex marriage.

The Maryland measure would allow same-sex marriages between gay and lesbian couples, although religious institutions would not be required to perform same-sex marriages.

A Washington Post poll published last month showed that 50 percent of Maryland residents supported legalization of same-sex marriage, while 44 percent were opposed.

The level of support in Maryland is the highest ever in a Post poll, and is in line with the rest of the country, the newspaper said.

Maryland Democrats, who hold majorities in both chambers of the legislature, are sharply divided by race on the issue. Among whites, 71 percent back same-sex unions, while 41 percent of blacks support it, the poll showed.

New York-based Reverend Al Sharpton, a national civil rights activist, is lobbying black ministers in Maryland this year to try to reverse the opposition that stymied the proposal in 2011.

(Additional reporting by Alice Popovici; Editing By Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)

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Comments (7)
travis42 wrote:
dictionary defintion of marriage: the social institition under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc. the formal declaration or contract by which act a man and a woman join in wedlock. a living together as husband and wife. a judge takes an oath to uphold the majesty of the law. not to create new laws or remove old laws. even so…a man entering into a union with a man or a woman entering into a union with a woman, will never nor can ever recieve the blessings and grace that is reserved only for a husband and wife. in the sacred marriage.

Feb 14, 2012 10:28pm EST  --  Report as abuse
salatino2005 wrote:
Homophobes are in the company of the most narrowminded hate-filled and bigoted kind of today. They FAIL to realize that a seperation of church and state prevents them from forcing their views on me. The bigot weirdos on here post villifying posts on here that do NOTHING to substiantiate. Rather, they KNOW that the polls show MORE people support marriage equality EVERY PASSING YEAR. The bigots are upset that marriage equality will be a reality soon. THEY KNOW IT TOO! If you can’t “cope” bigots, hire a therapist. I wish you bigots the best therapy you WILL NEED because you’re OBVIOUSLY so consumed by two peoples’ lives which have NOTHING to do with your damn boring and narrowminded life. :)

Feb 14, 2012 11:25pm EST  --  Report as abuse
salatino2005 wrote:
Heterosexual Logic 101: In the 10 Commandments: “Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery.” Heterosexuals don’t care about heterosexual women having abortions, heterosexuals cheating in marriage, marrying NOT for love, heterosexuals having many marriages, & heterosexuals having “sex before marriage,” which according to their religion is wrong. HOMOPHOBIC HETEROSEXUALS: DO YOU ENJOY BEING HYPOCRITES?

Feb 14, 2012 11:26pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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