Md. Senate Committee Approves Same-Sex Marriage Legislation

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—The same-sex marriage bill passed by the House last week gets it first vote of approval in the Senate on Tuesday. A committee vote sends the measure to the floor of the Senate.

Political reporter Pat Warren explains the questions raised about the bill.

Most of the questions raised center around the religious protections in the bill.

The House of Delegates passed the same-sex marriage bill last Friday. Backed by Governor Martin O’Malley, the bill includes protections to religious organizations–with an amendment intended to fend off challenges in court.

Questions about those protections were raised in a Senate committee on Tuesday.

Sen. Joseph Getty, R- Baltimore County, expressed his concerns: “When the law goes into effect for two or three years and then there is a court case in regards to religious protection and the religious protections in the bill are struck down.”

“I’m convinced that all of the religious provisions that we’ve got in here are solid,” responded Sen. Jamie Raskin D-Montgomery County. “They’re going to stick.”

But some also argue that those provisions don’t go far enough.

“On the floor, you’ll see amendments that deal with broader religious protection for people’s personal, moral and religious beliefs,” Getty said.

But don’t expect amendments to pass at this stage. Changing the bill now will send it back to the House of Delegates, and supporters don’t want that.

“If we start amending it, we send it back over to the House side, and it starts over there. Some people would like this to be an infinite regress, to have this just go on forever,” said Raskin. “It’s time to call to question the rights of tens of thousands of our constituents in the state. “

The Judicial Proceedings Committee passed the bill out of committee by a vote of 7-4, and it could be on the Senate floor by Wednesday.

The Senate passed a same-sex marriage bill last year, and there’s no indication that any votes have changed.

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