ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — In search of the votes to solidify the legalization of gay marriage, advocates rallied Monday night hoping to sway delegates who have not yet committed their support.
Gov. Martin O’Malley, who spoke to the crowd of hundreds, said he still needs to collect the votes of “a couple” of lawmakers in order to move the bill through the House of Delegates.
“We need a couple more votes and people always make their decisions against deadlines,” O’Malley told reporters after the rally. “The bill has been heard in the House and is likely to move.”
The governor said he didn’t want to make any presumptions about when the bill could come before the full chamber, but said he expects it could move out of committee as early as this week.
Organizers estimated as many as 800 supporters attended a rally before lobbying lawmakers prior to their regularly scheduled evening floor session. Last week, members of the House Judiciary and Health and Government Operations Committees heard more than 10 hours of testimony on the bill.
A similar bill passed the state Senate last year, but died in the House when lawmakers rescinded initial support citing religious and family values concerns.
Convincing Republican lawmakers to support his bill could be the key to passing the legislation, O’Malley said.
“That was the difference in many other states and that could well be the difference here,” he said. “It’s hard to say right now. Right now there’s a lot of soul searching going on a lot of people will be making their decisions finally in the next few days.”
Advocates from Frederick County planned to deliver 1,100 post cards supporting gay marriage to Del. Patrick Hogan, R-Frederick, a GOP lawmaker some believe might be willing to support the marriage bill as his district has become more Democratic in recent years.
Sen. Allan Kittleman, R-Howard, the only Senate Republican to support the bill last year, also spoke at the rally.
“I can tell you, ever since that time, I’ve never thought twice about it,” Kittleman said. “I never thought I did something wrong. I never thought I should have done something differently. I’m proud of that vote and it’s something I feel is probably the most significant vote I’ve made in my entire life.”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)