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Morning Read: Same-Sex Marriage Debate Begins In MD House Today

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    The debate over gay marriage officially begins in the Maryland House today, with testimony from the governor and a Republican delegate who is expected to introduce a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

    Supporters of the high-profile bill are building off the national momentum this week of a federal court blocking California’s ban on gay marriage. Washington state also became the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriages this week.

    The bill, according to The Washington Times, is expected to pass the Senate with relative ease, but will likely face a battle in the House where supporters say they are about three votes shy of the necessary 71 votes for passage.

    But for supporters, there is still some hope.

    The Baltimore Sun reported Thursday night that there are about a dozen members in the House that are still believed to be undecided on the same-sex marriage bill.

    Fifty-six of 141 members of House have put down their names in support of O’Malley’s bill. Forty-six have put their names on the opposing bill that specifically defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

    That means 39 people haven’t signed onto either, although some have them have informally voiced support for one over the other.

    Del. Pam Beidle, an Arundel County Democrat, is one of the undecided politicians who plans to listen to testimonies today before she makes up her mind, the Sun reports. She says she is “personally torn.”

    Beidle said "It is difficult when half of my district supports it and half doesn't.  I haven't made a decision."

    * The Virginia Senate defeated a bill Thursday that would have required all voters to declare their party affiliation at registration and give parties the option of choosing between an open or closed primary.

    The Republican-sponsored bill failed in a 24-16 vote. Critics of the bill said it had the potential of discouraging citizens from voting.

    * Here’s a sound bite that’s amusing because, well, it’s fairly perceptive and probably true.

    VA Democratic Sen. Richard L. Saslaw was apparently unhappy about the Senate’s approval of a bill that would require welfare recipients to pass a drug test in order to receive benefits.

    From the Richmond Times Dispatch:

    “This is essentially the bill that has made Florida the butt of jokes on late night television,” Saslaw said.

    “Why would we even mess with this thing? I really have no desire to have my face on the Daily Show,” he added.

    Democratic Sen. Janet Howell chimed in:

    “I would just like all the late night comics to know who voted for it and who didn’t.”

    The measure passed along party lines, but a budget amendment to provide funding for the testing was postponed until next year.

    * Politics, sports and twitter seem to be a toxic combination. Last Sunday, D.C. councilmember and former mayor Marion Barry took to twitter to not-so-politely express his frustration with the Redskin's performance this season, saying the team hasn't played well since it left D.C.

    On Thursday, Democratic Sen. Bob Casey from Pennsylvania complained on Twitter about the Nationals' plan to sell advance tickets to a May home game against the Philadelphia Phillies only to people who live in the D.C. area.

    His tweets:

    "I'm calling on the @Nationals to reverse course on a reported plan to block @Phillies fans from buying tickets to games at Nationals Park."

    @Phillies have some of the best fans in the world. They shouldn’t be left out in the cold because the Nats want a stronger home field adv."

    Washington City Paper wrote about the tweets in a post aptly titled “Your U.S. Senate at Work.”