A gay marriage bill cleared two committees in the Maryland House of Delegates on Tuesday, gay weekly the Washington Blade reported.

Members of the Judiciary Committee and the Health & Government Relations Committee heard public testimony on the measure last week during a joint session that ran well into the night. The bill cleared the committees with a 25-to-18 vote, with one abstention.

A similar bill passed the Senate last year and narrowly cleared the Judiciary Committee before it fizzled in the House.

Governor Martin O'Malley, who sponsored the bill as part of his legislative package, cheered the move.

“Today's vote on the Civil Marriage Protection Act is a significant step forward for the passage of this bill in Maryland,” he said in a statement. “Together, we will continue our work to ensure that our state protects religious freedom and provides equal protection under the law for all Marylanders.”

O'Malley also testified in favor of marriage equality during hearings in the House and Senate.

At a rally Monday in Annapolis, O'Malley said that the measure remained “a couple” of votes shy in the House.

“We need a couple more votes and people always make their decisions against deadlines,” O'Malley told reporters.

Also on Tuesday, Republican Delegate Robert Costa announced his support for the measure.

“I think it's not a state function to decide who can marry,” he told the Annapolis Capital. “I do what I believe is right for people. I don't think that matters. I represent constituents and not a party.”