A Maryland Senate panel on Thursday
approved a gay marriage bill and sent it along to the full Senate,
the AP reported.
The Senate Judicial Proceedings
Committee approved the legislation with a 7-4 vote.
Committee members also attached an
amendment to the bill designed to protect religious groups from
having to perform gay marriage ceremonies or provide services for
After the vote, Democratic Senator
James Rosapepe announced he would be voting in favor of the bill.
“I intend to vote for the bill as it
was reported out of committee with a strengthened conscience clause
to respect the views of religious denominations which do not
recognize same sex marriage,” Rosapepe wrote in an email.
The full Senate could vote on the bill
as early as next week.
Senate Minority Leader Nancy Jacobs, a
Republican, said she expects an anticipated filibuster attempt to
Governor Martin O'Malley has pledged to
sign the bill into law, which would make Maryland the sixth state to
legalize the institution.
The House has yet to hold a hearing on
its version of the measure.
Meanwhile, opponents on Thursday
released a poll that shows a majority (54%) of Marylanders do not
support gay marriage and a large majority (78%) want a chance to vote
on the issue. The survey's pollster, however, was
heavily involved in the effort to get California's gay marriage ban,
Proposition 8, approved.