The Maryland House of Delegates on
Friday approved a gay marriage bill, positioning Maryland as the next
state to legalize such unions.
The measure cleared the House with a
narrow 72 to 67 vote.
Lawmakers approved two amendments to
the measure aimed at shoring up support. One amendment, approved
Thursday evening, pushed back the bill's effective date from October
to January 2013, ensuring that gay nuptials do not begin until after
the November election. Opponents have vowed to put the issue up for
a public vote. The second amendment, passed earlier on Friday, would
block the bill from taking effect until litigation over a drive to
repeal the law is settled.
Several amendments aimed at weakening
the measure, including one which would have put the measure up for a
public vote, were defeated.
Republican Delegate Wade Kach, who two
days earlier voted against the measure in committee, told colleagues
that his mind was changed during that committee's hearing.
Kach said he was touched by the
testimony of a lesbian couple who were barred from sharing custody of
“As a pro-life legislator, I believe
that it is my responsibility to make certain that children are taken
care of. This child, if this couple were to be able to have a civil
marriage, would be taken care of. This child would have the rights
that a child of a traditional married couple would have. So, I left
that hearing a changed person,” he said.
Supporters faced their greatest
obstacle in the House, where Democratic leaders last year shelved a
vote due to lack of support. With that hurdle cleared, Maryland is
poised to become the eighth state to legalize gay marriage.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where
supporters outnumber opponents, then to the desk of Governor Martin
O'Malley, who introduced the measure last month in his legislative
UPDATE: Vote count was originally
reported as 71 in favor due to a technical glitch.