EYE ON ANNAPOLIS: Md. Senate approves historic same-sex marriage bill, Gov. O’Malley to sign

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EYE ON ANNAPOLIS • TOM MCPARLAND, CNS

A long time coming

In an historic 25-22 vote Thursday night, the Maryland Senate approved a highly controversial same-sex marriage bill, sending it to the desk of Gov. Martin O’Malley for his signature.

Maryland Senator Richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery)

Maryland Senator Richard Madaleno (D-18)

“It was a dream a long time coming,” said Sen. Richard Madaleno, D-Montgomery, a bill supporter and openly gay legislator.

As Senate bill supporters were joined in their celebration by allies from the House of Delegates, proponents said they were ready if need be to defend their victory at the ballot box in November.

“We’re going to celebrate today, but we’re going to be ready,” said Delegate Luke Clippinger, D-Baltimore, an openly gay lawmaker who was heavily involved in the bill’s successful push through the House. “I believe that we are going to be able to take this issue to the people of the state of Maryland where they’re going to vote ‘yes’ to support marriage equality.”

Bill opponents are expected to gather the 55,726 signatures needed to put the Civil Marriage Protection Act on the ballot. But some expressed concern Thursday about the referendum process.

“I would hope as well that as we leave here today with the outcome of this vote, that it does not renew the efforts to change the referendum process,” said Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin, R-Cecil.

After passing in the Senate last year, this year’s legislation was projected to move quickly through the chamber. It narrowly passed in the House of Delegates Friday.

“Thanks to our elected leaders, clergy and faith-based leaders, community leaders, civic organizations, civil rights groups, and citizens from across our state, Maryland will now be able to protect individual civil marriage rights and religious freedom equally,” bill champion O’Malley said in a statement after the vote.

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