Maryland Senate passes same-sex marriage bill

by Rex Wockner

Maryland's Senate passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage Feb. 24. The vote was 25-21.

"This is a historic and proud moment in Maryland's history," said lead sponsor Sen. Rob Garagiola. "I am confident that the Free State will realize full marriage equality in 2011."

The bill now goes to the House of Delegates, where the vote could be close. Gov. Martin O'Malley has vowed to sign the bill if it arrives on his desk. Maryland has a law similar to the one that was used in Maine to overturn the legislature's legalization of same-sex marriage there in 2009. If enough voter signatures are collected, a recently passed law can be subjected to a voter referendum and canceled out. The earliest that such a measure could appear on the ballot in Maryland is November 2012.

Same-sex marriage is legal in five states: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, and also Washington, D.C.

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