Md. House Approves Gay Marriage Bill

Bill moves to State Senate

The Maryland House of Delegates voted in favor of the same-sex marriage bill Friday evening.

The House voted 72-67 to give gay couples the right to marry.

"Wherever we happen to stand on the marriage equality issue, we can agree that all our children deserve the opportunity to live in a loving, caring, committed and stable home, protected equally under the law," Gov. Martin O'Malley said in a statement. “Clergy and faith-based leaders, community leaders, civic organizations, civil rights groups, and citizens from across our state have reached the same conclusion that Americans in seven other states have reached – it is possible to protect individual civil marriage rights and religious freedom equally."

After a week of speculation on whether proponents would gather the votes needed, lawmakers debated it Thursday evening.  Several amendments to the bill were rejected, including creating civil unions and allowing parents to opt out of education programs that address same-sex relationships.

The bill now moves to the State Senate, which approved gay marriage 25-21 last year.

Approval would make Maryland the eighth state to legalize the same-sex unions, although opponents have vowed to petition the measure to referendum.

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