Maryland (STOMD1)’s Senate passed a measure to make same-sex marriage legal, a move supported by Governor Martin O’Malley, positioning the state to become the eighth in the nation to permit the practice.
By a 25-22 vote yesterday, the bill surmounted its last legislative hurdle. The House of Delegates, which last year prevented the measure from advancing, passed it last week. The legislation now goes to O’Malley, a Democrat who sponsored it.
“The common thread running through our efforts together in Maryland is the thread of human dignity,” O’Malley said in a statement. “Maryland will now be able to protect individual civil marriage rights and religious freedom equally.”
The Free State will join seven others and the District of Columbia in allowing same-sex weddings, fueling a national debate over the practice. A similar measure was enacted Feb. 13 by Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, a Democrat. Last week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, vetoed a gay-marriage bill passed by the Legislature.
While states and localities have been marrying same-sex couples since 2004 in Massachusetts, where a 2003 high court ruling led to the first such weddings, the unions aren’t recognized by the federal government under a 1996 law. That’s left the issue to be dealt with by the states, where voters have rejected the practice in all 31 referendums on the issue.
Opponents in Maryland still may gather signatures to put the matter before voters.
Same-sex marriage has been the focus of political and courtroom clashes between advocates who say citizens are being denied a civil right and those who see the practice as a threat to traditional families and values.
Other states where same-sex marriage is legal are New York, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont.
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