Maryland Delegate Heather Mizeur said Friday that she and her wife, Deborah Mizeur, are among the thousands heartbroken over Friday's defeat of a gay marriage bill.

The effort to make Maryland the sixth state to legalize the institution ended on Friday.

After nearly three hours of passionate debate, the House decided to return the bill to committee, effectively killing the effort for this year.

“Today, the House of Delegates recommitted marriage equality legislation to committee,” Mizeur said in an email to supporters. “Tomorrow, we must recommit ourselves to the hard work of protecting our families without marriage to back us up.”

Mizeur was among the chamber's seven openly gay delegates urging colleagues on Friday to approve the measure.

“It's love that makes a family, but it's marriage that protects it,” Mizeur, who legally married Deborah 5 years ago, told lawmakers. “Do the right thing: cast your vote in favor of love.”

In her email, Mizeur added that she and her wife were heartbroken: “Deborah and I are among the more than 15,000 families in our state that are heartbroken. Just years ago, we had to fight with all our might to secure basic protections for our families. Today, we came within votes of full marriage equality.”