Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley on Thursday applauded passage in the state Senate of his plan to make Maryland the eighth state to legalize gay marriage.

Democratic senators approved the bill with the help of one Republican, Senator Allan Kittleman.

Kittleman said on the Senate floor that marriage equality is the “civil rights issue of our generation.”

This was the second time the chamber has approved the measure. A gay marriage bill cleared the Senate last year before it was ultimately shelved in the House of Delegates due to lack of support.

The House joined the Senate last week in approving marriage equality.

“I'd like to thank Senate President [Mike] Miller for his leadership and our legislators in the Senate for their hard work and their vote today for human dignity,” Martin said in a statement.

“All children deserve the opportunity to live in a loving, caring, committed and stable home, protected equally under the law. The common thread running through our efforts together in Maryland is the thread of human dignity, the dignity of work, the dignity of faith, the dignity of family, the dignity of every individual.”

Martin, who brought two African-American ministers with him to a committee hearing to testify in favor of the measure, also thanked faith-based leaders for their support.