Md. House Debates Same-Sex Marriage, Readies For Final Vote

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — One more big vote will determine the future of same-sex marriage in the Maryland General Assembly.  The House of Delegates is deciding if it will pass the measure and send it on to the governor.

Political reporter Pat Warren has more on Wednesday’s debate.

The House of Delegates whipped through a series of amendments Wednesday morning and left the bill intact.

Opponents of same-sex marriage made their feelings known outside the State House.  Inside the State House, delegates debated an amendment over what voters can do about those feelings.

“Most voters are saying, `I want to vote on this,'” said Nicholas Kipke.

From day one, opponents of same-sex marriage have been using the likelihood of a voter referendum as a safety net.

“Let it be known that they may win in the Senate, they may win in the House, but when the history of this fight is over, we shall and we will win on referendum,” said Del. Emmett Burns, (D) Baltimore County.

Delegates tried to lock that referendum in as a sure thing by including it in the bill.  Instead of taking their chances on getting enough signatures to force it on the ballot, they wanted a guarantee.

“When it’s this close, who are we—188 lawmakers in Annapolis—to say we’ve got it right and not listen to what the people have to offer?” said Del. Jay Walker, (D) Prince George’s County.

But same-sex marriage supporters, some of whom don’t even want a referendum, resisted by echoing what the opponents have said all along.

“It will be petitioned, they have the conviction and courage of their conviction.  Let us have the conviction and courage of our conviction and vote the bill before us up or down and let the people know where we stand,” said Del. Luiz Simmons, (D) Montgomery County.

“No, there is no guarantee.  These deadlines are quick, the numbers are huge and if you can’t get the signatures correct, there’s a possibility it will not go to referendum,” said Del. Pat McDonough, (R) Baltimore County.

So, while both sides expect a referendum, the majority covered its bets by refusing to guarantee one and with no amendments, the bill will soon come up for a final vote.

Governor Martin O’Malley says he plans to sign the bill if it passes.

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