The debate on whether to legalize gay marriage in Maryland began Friday with the introduction of a bill in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola and Senator Rich Madaleno are behind the bill that seeks to legalize gay nuptials.

Lawmakers in the House will introduce their version next week to expedite the process during Maryland's brief 90-day session, which began 2 weeks ago.

Madaleno told On Top Magazine during a brief telephone interview that the chances of passage are “the best it's ever been.”

“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.

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

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. New York State Senator Thomas Duane has promised to introduce a gay marriage bill “within weeks.”