The odds that Maryland will become the
next state to legalize gay marriage increase as proponents prepare to
take over a key Senate committee.
Proposed bills that would legalize gay
marriage have previously died in the 11-member Judicial Proceedings
Committee, but new assignments announced on Friday boost the number
of supporters to six, paving the way for such a bill to reach the
Democrat-controlled Senate floor.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller,
a Democrat who opposes gay marriage, signed off on the committee
“I believe every important issue
should be voted on by the full chamber at least once,” he told the
Maryland Democrats avoided a Republican
wave that overtook many state Legislatures on November 2 to pick-up
two seats in the Senate. Moreover, several Democrats who oppose gay
marriage in the General Assembly were sent packing.
Openly gay state Senator Richard
Madaleno predicted the odds of Maryland legalizing the institution in
the next year are in the “six, seven, eight” out of ten range.
That was before the new committee assignments were announced.
The number of openly gay lawmakers also
increased on November 2 – up from five to seven – a development
Madaleno called important.
“Just by having out people there to
participate in the conversation fundamentally alters the discussion,”
told GayPolitics.com. “The tenor of the conversation changes.
It humanizes it.”
adopted a February gay marriage opinion by Attorney General Douglas
F. Gansler that favored recognizing the marriages of gay couples
performed in other jurisdictions over the objection of a state law
that bans such unions. The institution is legal in neighboring
District of Columbia. And
the state began offering gay state employees equal marriage benefits
as heterosexual couples in May.
Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, has pledged to sign a gay marriage bill
into law if approved by lawmakers.