MARYLAND

Gay marriage bill moves to Maryland Senate

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Maryland's hotly debated same-sex marriage legislation moved one step closer to ratification Tuesday after a Senate committee voted to move the bill to the Senate floor.

(Photo: Associated Press)

The Senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee voted 7-4 - the same tally as last year - to pass the bill to the entire chamber.

The move brings the Free State one step closer to becoming the eighth state to approve gay nuptials, along with D.C.

“I don't think anybody's vote is going to change,” Mary Ellen Russell, Executive Director of the Maryland Catholic Conference. “I think it would be unlikely. It's happened before but I would expect that a majority of the Senate still supports it."

The House of Delegates narrowly passed the measure last week.

Governor Martin O’Malley, who has made the bill one of his top legislative priorities this year, sponsored the bill.

While gay rights groups have been lobbying hard in Annapolis, Monday night, hundreds of local Catholics waited in long lines to meet with senators – a last ditch effort to stop gay marriage from becoming legal in Maryland.

"What's concerning so many people is the haste with which this is happening and I think that's really woken up their urgency to come down and say slow down for just a second and think about this," Russell said.

Montgomery County Committee Chairman Brian Frosh, who voted for the measure last year, said, "I think it's reasonable to expect a final senate vote by the end of the week could be the beginning of next week."

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