Maryland joined the ranks of Washington State and New Jersey this week by passing marriage equality in both the House and Senate. The Civil Marriage Protection Act is on its way now for signature by Gov. Martin O’Malley. He has expressed his approval of the bill should it arrive on his desk.
According to The Baltimore Sun:
Cheers erupted in the Senate chambers after the 25-22 vote was read out loud and the group of seven gay and lesbian lawmakers from the House of Delegates rushed to the middle of the floor to embrace supportive senators.
“I think I’m speechless,” said Sen. Richard Madaleno, the only openly gay senator. “This is a remarkable day.”
O’Malley, a Democrat, shook hands with activists after the vote. “This has been a difficult issue for many people,” he said. “But as one Maryland we came together around the principal of human dignity. … It does feel good to have this issue resolved.”
The vote makes Maryland the eighth state to approve gay nuptials — and the fourth state legislature to do so in the past 12 months.
“Since Governor O’Malley has championed this bill and already said he will sign the bill into law, today’s historic vote means marriage equality in Maryland!” said Stuart Gaffney, Marriage Equality USA Media Director. “We are encouraged by reports that former Vice President Dick Cheney made calls to lobby Maryland legislators to support the bill. Supporting his lesbian daughter Mary illustrates the true meaning of family values across party lines.”
“We are seeing unstoppable momentum for equal marriage rights from every avenue,” said John Lewis, Marriage Equality USA Legal Director. “Yesterday, yet another federal court struck down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), saying the law ‘treats gay men and lesbians differently on the basis of their sexual orientation’ without any legal basis…The imposition of subjective moral beliefs of a majority on a minority cannot provide a justification.'”
“The Maryland legislature now joins Washington State and New Jersey in passing marriage equality bills in just the last few weeks. Loving, committed couples stand to benefit from these bills from coast to coast,” concluded Gaffney.
If unchallenged, the law would take effect January 1, 2013. However, a referendum is expected.
Stay up-to-date on Maryland equality news here: Equality Maryland.