In the same week that a gay marriage bill was signed into law in Washington and passed by the New Jersey State Senate, the Maryland House of Delegates is expected to debate a marriage equality bill of its own on Wednesday (15 February).
The bill passed through two House committees on Tuesday – following 11 hours of debate last Friday – and the proposed legislation has the support of Gov. Martin O'Malley.
'Today's vote on the Civil Marriage Protection Act is a significant step forward for the passage of this bill in Maryland,' O'Malley said. 'Together, we will continue our work to ensure that our state protects religious freedom and provides equal protection under the law for all Marylanders.'
It is not yet clear if the bill has enough support within the full House for passage. The bill passed in the Senate last year but was pulled from the House when supporters did not have the number of votes needed.
Should they get the support they need, it would make Maryland the eighth state in the U.S. to allow same-sex marriages. The District of Columbia also allows the marriages.
Republican Del. Don Dwyer has vowed to vote against the bill.
'This is the most important vote we will take in our lifetime,' Dwyer told his colleagues. 'Dig deep and really concentrate on the vote you are about to take.'
But gay-rights activist Lisa M. Polyak told the Baltimore Sun: 'The word of the moment is momentum. We hope the rest of the House will take notice that momentum is in the favor of equality and we invite them to join us."