A Maryland House panel will consider a gay marriage bill on Friday, a day after the Senate gave its approval.

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the measure this afternoon.

A majority of members on the committee support gay marriage and passage appears assured. However, supporters on Thursday acknowledged they have yet to lock down a majority in the House, considered the more liberal chamber on social issues.

Governor Martin O'Malley has pledged to sign the bill into law, which would make Maryland the sixth state to legalize the institution.

Opponents of marriage equality, including the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage, and the Family Research Council (FRC), have promised to mount a campaign to repeal the law, if approved by lawmakers.

Analysts believe opponents could easily put the question on next year's ballot. But supporters of marriage equality are hoping to make Maryland the first state to vote in their favor. Recent polls found a narrow majority (51%) of voters favor giving gay and lesbian couples the benefits of marriage.