After about an hour of discussions from opposing views, Maryland’s State Senate voted 25-21 in favor of Senate Bill 116, The Civil Marriage Protection Act on Thursday, Feb. 24.
A House version of the bill is expected to be introduced in House committee tomorrow.
If signed into law, the bill would grant same-sex couples legal marriage rights in the state of Maryland, while also protecting the rights of religious institutions to handle issues of marriage however they see fit.
The marriage bill was written by Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery), the only out gay member of Maryland's Senate, and Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery).
Maryland State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. allowed Senators to talk before declaring a vote at 6 p.m., with debates from each side limited to 30 minutes after the vote.
Reacting to passage of the bill, Equality Maryland promptly issued a release praising those who co-sponsored the bill, including Senator Rob Garagiola (D-15).
“This is a historic and proud moment in Maryland's history,” Garagiola, lead sponsor of the bill said on its passage.
“The advocates for this legislation have worked tirelessly to this point and will continue to push through the final stages of this movement. I am honored to be a part of this effort and am confident that the Free State will realize full marriage equality in 2011.”
Full coverage of the vote, and introduction of bill in House committee, to follow on Poliglot.