ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland was approved Thursday by the state’s Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, advancing the bill to the Senate floor for debate and a vote as early as next week.
Although the vote in the full Senate is expected to be close, proponents of marriage equality are confident they have the 24 votes necessary to pass the bill, and even leadership of both parties on Thursday predicted passage.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) predicted Thursday that the bill narrowly would pass in his chamber. The legislation next would move to the House of Delegates, traditionally the more liberal chamber on social policy.
Maryland would join the District [of Columbia] and five other states in allowing marriages between same-sex couples.
On Thursday, Sen. James C. Rosapepe (D-Prince George) announced his support for the marriage equality legislation shortly after the committee approval, giving the bill enough votes to clear the upper chamber.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said the chamber could hold a final vote on the bill within the next 10 days.
Gov. Martin O’Malley has said he would sign the bill if passed by the legislature, but the General Assembly does not necessarily have the last word.
Opponents could then petition for a referendum to overturn it. If successful, that action would put the law on hold pending a statewide vote in November 2012, giving voters the final say.