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Md. Lawmakers To Outline Same-Sex Couple Bill

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same sex marriage, civil unions

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland legislative leaders are holding a news conference outlining a proposed law to recognize same-sex couples.

Andrea Fujii reports a new poll predicts what may happen.

This is not the first time the legislature has brought up gay marriage, but it is the first time it may be up to the voters to decide, and it’s not clear if it would pass.

The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act would legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland, but would not require churches to perform the unions.

Proponents say they have the votes, but opponents look to the ballot.

“The people will take it. In other words, if a bill is passed in the General Assembly, the people can petition the bill in referendum, and I’m definitely sure that will happen,” said Delegate Patrick McDonough, (R) Baltimore County.

If the decision is left to voters, a just released poll suggests it’d be close.

Of the more than 800 registered voters polled by Gonzales Research, 51 percent support gay marriage in Maryland and 44 percent oppose it. Five percent did not respond.

Down party lines, 65 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Independents are in favor. Seventy-three percent of Republicans are opposed of the bill.

Gita Dean is a gay marriage advocate and has reservations about putting the issue to a vote.

“I really feel like the civil rights issue of any minority should never be voted on by a majority,” said Dean.

The bill must be passed in the House and the Senate and signed by the governor first before it goes to the voters.  Right now, the outcome in the legislature is still too close to call.

The earliest the issue could appear on the ballot would be in the 2012 presidential election.

There is also a second same-sex bill proposed in the Senate and that one would recognize civil unions.

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