The Maryland House on Wednesday gave a
gay marriage bill its preliminary okay, the AP reported.
Gay marriage backers fought off four
proposed amendments to advance the bill to a third and final vote.
Before Wednesday's session, House
Speaker Michael Bush warned that any changes to the bill, approved
two weeks ago by the Senate, could kill it.
Keeping the bill free from amendments
allows the House to send the legislation directly to Governor Martin
O'Malley, who has promised to sign it into law. Any changes would
send the bill back to the Senate for a second round as the clock runs
out on Maryland's brief 90-day legislative session.
Delegate Andrew Serafini, a Republican
from Washington County, proposed changing the name of the bill from
the Civil Marriage Protection Act to the Same-Sex Marriage Act, while
Democratic Delegate Aisha Braveboy of Prince George County attempted
to attach an amendment that would put the measure on the ballot.
“This is an important step forward
but it's not a done deal,” Morgan
Meneses-Sheets, executive director of the gay rights group Equality
Maryland, told gay weekly Metro Weekly. “We have to
keep up the work in order to make sure this important legislation
passes for all loving and committed gay and lesbian couples in
Opponents of gay marriage are widely
expected to mount a referendum on the law, if approved by lawmakers.