A gay marriage bill will be introduced in the Maryland Senate this week, Senator Rich Madaleno told On Top Magazine during a brief telephone interview on Monday.

The 45-year-old openly gay Democrat is the lead sponsor of the legislation in the Senate.

Lawmakers in each chamber will introduce separate bills in order to expedite the process during Maryland's brief 90-day session, which began last Wednesday.

Chances of passage are “the best it's ever been,” Madaleno said.

“We had a very successful election in Maryland on this issue. We brought in a number of new people who are committed to this issue in both chambers. In the state Senate we enlarged the Democratic majority, which is a rarity in 2010.”

“It was a transformative election in Maryland on this issue,” he added.

While Madaleno agreed with Governors Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Andrew Cuomo of New York that gay marriage can be an economic issue, he insisted that backers in Maryland continue to frame marriage equality mostly as a matter of civil rights.

Previous attempts to legalize gay unions have suffered setbacks in the Senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee, but new assignments have boosted the number of supporters on the 11-member panel to six, paving the way for such a bill to reach the Democrat-controlled Senate floor.

Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley has pledged to sign a gay marriage bill into law if approved by lawmakers.

Opponents of such laws have already vowed to work to repeal the law if approved.

“I think supporters of redefining marriage are looking [at] any place they can gain ground,” Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), told the Christian Post. “In every state where the people had the chance to vote, in both blue and deep red states, they have voted against same-sex marriage.”

Gay marriage is legal in five states – Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont – and the District of Columbia.

Legislation that would legalize gay marriage has already been introduced in Rhode Island. Hawaii lawmakers are set to consider civil unions.