Gov. Martin O'Malley says legalizing gay marriage in Maryland is a matter of protecting children.
The governor, a Democrat, has taken a leadership role in advancing the Civil Marriage Equality act this year. He testified in support of his proposal to allow same-sex marriages before the Senate Judicial Proceeding Committee Tuesday afternoon.
O'Malley said the bill will offer certain legal protections to children of gay couples, providing parity with children of married, heterosexual parents.
Last year, the Senate passed a version of the bill. But it stalled in the House, at least in part over legislators' religious and family values concerns.
Results of a Washington Post poll released on Monday showed the residents of Maryland equally split in their support of same-sex marriage.
News4's Chris Gordon reports even if the bill successfully advances into law, it's likely opponents will force a statewide referendum on the measure.