Md. Gay Marriage Bill Passes House Committee

Saturday, Mar 5, 2011  |  Updated 8:37 AM EDT
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Gay Marriage Clears Another Hurdle in Md.

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Gay Marriage Clears Another Hurdle in Md.

A Maryland House Committee passes the same-sex marriage bill 12-to-10.
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The Maryland House Judiciary Committee passed the Civil Marriage Protection Act 12-10 Friday.

The bill, which would legalize same-sex marriage in the state, now goes to the full House of Delegates.

The vote followed debate on several amendments, including at least two to change the name of the bill, one to include bigamy and one to allow marriage to any relative, according to Delegate Keiffer Mitchell, a co-sponsor of the bill who tweeted from the committee meeting. The last one was withdrawn; the others were defeated.

Delegate Tiffany Alston, D-Prince George's County, pleased Republicans with an amendment to change marriage to civil unions, but that was defeated 10-10, reported NBC Washington's Chris Gordon.

Alston and Delegate Jill Carter, D-Baltimore, skipped a scheduled vote Tuesday in protest. Carter said she wouldn't vote until Baltimore schools received full funding.

Same-sex couples in Maryland would have the same full marriage rights as heterosexuals under the bill, which passed the state Senate last week. It includes protections for religious groups and institutions to keep them from being forced to participate in gay weddings.

Gov. Martin O'Malley has said he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

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