A Maryland House committee began debate
on a gay marriage bill on Friday, one
day after the Senate gave its approval.
The chamber's six openly gay members
pleaded with the House Judiciary Committee to approve the bill.
“This debate is not about
abstractions, this debate is not about definition, it's about the
thousands of families who will be protected by this law,” said
Delegate Heather Mizeur, a Democrat, as she motioned to her wife of
two years, Deborah Mizeur.
The Senate approved the measure on
Thursday with the assistance of one Republican, Senator Allan
Kittleman, who joined 24 Democrats in voting for the bill.
A majority of members on the House
committee support gay marriage and passage appears assured. However,
supporters on Friday acknowledged they have yet to lock down a
majority in the House, considered the more liberal chamber on social
“We have about 69 of the 71 firm
commitments that we need,” Mizeur told Baltimore's NBC affiliate
WBAL. “And we have more than a handful of folks who are undecided
but leaning our way that we think will be able to deliver in the
Passage of out the committee could
happen as early as Tuesday. And the full House could take a final
vote on the measure by Friday.
Opponents, led by Delegate Don Dwyer,
have mounted a campaign to derail the legislation.
“Homosexuality will be taught at some
level to children attending public schools as has been ordered by the
court in various states,” Dwyer said during a morning press
conference on Friday.
The Maryland Republican Party has begun
blanketing parts of the state with robocalls, which tell voters that
Democrats are working to “destroy traditional marriage.”
“They are eroding the values [this]
country and state were founded on by redefining marriage,” a female
says in the message.
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
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.
Governor Martin O'Malley has pledged to
sign the bill into law, which would make Maryland the sixth state to
legalize the institution.