Maryland’s marriage equality bill was shelved on Friday, a setback for gay rights advocates who expected this legislative session to be their best chance to date for passage.
The House approved on voice vote a motion to send the bill back to the Judiciary Committee, an acknowledgment by supporters that it did not have sufficient votes to pass on the floor, according to the Washington Post.
Advocates for the bill had hoped Maryland would join five other states and the District in allowing same-sex marriages.
The bill had significant momentum coming out of the Senate but ran into resistance in the Democratic-led House from African-American lawmakers from Prince George’s County, who cited religious opposition in their districts, and conservative Democrats in Southern Maryland and the Baltimore suburbs.
Had a vote been taken today, it would have come within a delegate or two of passage, House leaders said. Advocates believe they were only a single vote shy.
The bill, the Civil Marriage Protection Act, was moved back to committee after more than two hours of debate.