The Maryland House of Delegates held debates and ultimately rejected all presented amendments to Senate Bill 116, during its second reading on the House floor on Wednesday, March 9.
More debates and a vote on the measure are expected on Friday, March 11, during the bill’s third reading in which other amendments can also be introduced.
If signed into law, the legislation would grant same-sex couples in the state legal marriage recognition, while also protecting the rights of religious institutions to handle issues of marriage however they see fit.
Amendments proposed on the House floor included one by Del. Andrew Serafini (R-Washington County) to change the name of the bill from the Civil Marriage Protection Act to the “Same-Sex Marriage Act.” That was rejected 52-85.
The House spent the majority of the debate on a floor amendment proposed by Del. Aisha Braveboy (D-Prince George’s County) to ensure that the bill is partnered with another bill that would guarantee that the marriage legislation goes to referendum.
Maryland’s House is comprised of 141 delegates, from 47 districts, of which 98 are Democrats and 43 Republicans.
Senate Bill 116 passed the Senate on Feb. 24, with a 25-21 vote. Passage of the bill in the House would send the legislation to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s (D) desk.
O'Malley has said that he will sign the legislation into law if it passes through the Senate and the House.
Opponents have said that they will seek a referendum for which a total of 55,736 signatures are required on the petition and must be submitted to Secretary of State John P. McDonough (D) by June 30. One third of those signatures are due on May 31.
Speaking to Metro Weekly after the marriage bill’s second reading, Morgan Meneses-Sheets, executive director of the state’s equal rights organization Equality Maryland, remained determined.
“This is an important step forward but it’s not a done deal,” she said. “We have to keep up the work in order to make sure this important legislation passes for all loving and committed gay and lesbian couples in Maryland.”