Maryland’s House of Representatives passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage by a 72-64 vote. The bill, called the Civil Marriage Protection Act, is expected to pass through the Maryland Senate after which Governor Martin O’Malley will sign it into law. O’Malley, governor since 2007 and a Democrat, proposed the bill originally.
The House took hours debating the issue before its deciding vote. Gay and lesbian delegates emotionally shared their support for the bill, swaying some Republican votes. Robert Costa, a Republican delegate who voted in favor of the bill’s passing said to the New York Times, “People believe that it’s a sin for a homosexual to be married, but who are they to judge? It’s up to God, not government.”
While the bill will have no difficulty being signed into law after it passes through the Senate, its opponents are expected to put it on the ballot on November 6th. In a recent Washington Post poll on the issue, 50 percent of Maryland was in favor of gay marriage with 44 percent opposed and 6 percent undecided. Also in the poll, 74 percent of those opposed to legalizing same-sex marriage listed religious belief as the reason for their decision.
Currently, marriage in Maryland is only allowed between a man and a woman. Domestic partnerships with rights and benefits similar to marriage have been allowed to both homosexual and straight couples since 2008. Friday’s decision by the House comes after nearly 15 years of various attempts to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.