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Maryland One Step Closer To Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage

It now appears to only be a matter of time before same-sex marriage becomes legal in the State of Maryland:

A bill that would legalize same-sex marriage squeaked through the House of Delegates on Friday night with just one vote above the minimum needed for passage, putting Maryland on the cusp of becoming the eighth state to allow such unions.

Cheers erupted when the gavel dropped on the final 72-67 tally. Within minutes, Gov.Martin O’Malley, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, walked from his second-floor office to the door of the House chamber, embraced House Speaker Michael E. Buschand said, “Good job, man.”

“We are a good people. We all want the same things for our kids,” O’Malley said. Then he extended credit to delegates and activists, many of whom had been skeptical about his commitment to the issue. “These guys did it,” he said.

The measure now goes to the Senate, which passed a similar bill last year and is expected do so again. The chamber will likely take up the measure next week.

Should the bill pass in both chambers, activists on both sides believe it would be petitioned to referendum in November. If voters approve the measure, the earliest a gay couple would be able to wed is January 2013, when the law would go into effect.

The victory is significant for O’Malley, who threw the weight of his office behind the measure after a similar bill fell a few votes short in the House last year. The governor had been working the halls of the House office building at all hours to persuade wavering delegates.

It’s good news, of course, but there’s still the expected referendum to deal with. However, if it stands it means that Maryland would join the District of Columbia in becoming the first two Mid-Atlantic jurisdictions to legalize same-sex marriage. The tide is indeed turning.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    Oh Oh Little Ricky – Satan is at it again!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. Brummagem Joe says:

    The tide is indeed turning.

    But this presents no potential instate problems for Christie in NJ?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Jim Henley says:

    It was barely a week ago someone was asking me why, when I work in Virginia, I want to keep living in Maryland. This week, both states answered the question for me in their separate ways.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. Just nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    Legislature, referendum…where does the Conservative movement move the goal posts to this time–the courts?

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  5. John Peabody says:

    Will the large amount minority voters in Maryland support this legislation?

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  6. @John Peabody:

    That’s a good question. As this article notes, there’s been much resistance from the African-American community in Maryland on this issue. Also, black Church leaders have been at the forefront of the unsuccessful efforts to overturn the District Of Columbia’s same-sex marriage law.

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  7. @Brummagem Joe:

    In the short term — i.e., 2013 — I see no evidence that it will

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  8. Delmar says:

    Often the states are rushing this through without hearings, studies, and enough input from psychologists, ministers, and economists about the short and long term effects of this sort of social change.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  9. Jim Henley says:

    @Doug Mataconis: But all this is saying is, in places like Maryland and the District of Colombia, much of the charismatic-Christian population is black. In Iowa it’s white ministers. In DC it’s black ones. In California it’s both.

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  10. Jim Henley says:

    @Delmar: Pretending for just a moment that this objection is offered in good faith, I’ll point out that the Maryland law does not remotely count as “rushed through.” It’s been a topic of legislation for more than a year.

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  11. mattb says:

    @Delmar:
    Further we should note that at least in NYS, it was the second time legislators had taken up the topic. And as I remember, in both cases there was a significant amount of hearing and lobbying on both sides related to the topic.

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  12. mattb says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    If one looks to polling, rather than specific subsections of the/a community, things shift a bit.

    Polling from late last year, shows the black community split 41/59 (for/against) the measure. That is more against than in other demographic groups, but not a monolithic opposition.

    As to the reasons for that lack of support, I suggest these two articles which tease out some of the more complex issues at play (and how some LGBT activists have potentially contributed to the problem):
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/01/opinion/bruni-same-sex-marriage-and-blacks.html
    http://www.npr.org/2011/03/04/134257733/the-root-the-misjudged-black-vote-on-gay-marriage

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