ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Same-sex marriages are on the verge of becoming legal in Maryland. Lawmakers took a key vote Thursday—one that almost clears the way for tens of thousands of couples to get married.

Andrea Fujii explains what this all means.

READ MORE: Bowie Shaken After Possible Tornado Leaves Uprooted Trees, Power Outages

After hours of debate on the Senate floor, the same-sex marriage bill passes.

“We should pass laws that treat each and every one of Marylanders as equals– no matter who you chose to love,” said Senator Victor R. Ramirez, (D) Prince George’s County.

This is the closest the state has ever been to legalizing gay marriage. The emotion was clear across the Senate floor.

“This is not about discrimination.  This is about core values that we carry with us,” said Senator Edward Reilly, (R) Anne Arundel County.

“Even Webster’s dictionary provides two definitions of marriage—marriage between a man and woman and marriage between those of the same sex,” said Senator Catherine Pugh, (D) Baltimore City.

The final vote: 25 to 21. 

READ MORE: Several Houses In East Baltimore Will Be Torn Down Over North Avenue Sinkhole, Mayor Says

Now that the bill has passed this major hurdle, it will be considered by the House of Delegates.

“I’ve been around the General Assembly enough to say that nothing is ever a done deal.  But I think we’ve got the momentum,” said Senator Richard Stuart Madaleno Jr., (D) Montgomery County.

Just like in California, opponents promise that if this becomes law, they will put the question on a referendum next year.

Senator Nancy Jacobs says she intends to fight the bill.

“Monday we’ll get to work,” said Jacobs, (R) Cecil & Harford counties. “Oh, you betcha, as soon as we have the wording and the petitions available. I told my husband that we’re not going on vacation until we get them.”

“I think it’s going to be a very exciting general election and it’s going to enhance the vote on this matter,” said Sen. President Mike Miller, (D) Prince George’s and Calvert Counties. “I think it’s going to enhance it in a negative way.”

“We welcome it because I think the majority of people want us to have the same rights as everybody else,” said Cindy Grim, gay rights advocate.

MORE NEWS: 19-Year-Old Man Dies After Being Shot In West Baltimore

Gov. Martin O’Malley has already said he would sign the bill into law. It would go into effect this October.