In a sign of how close the vote count on same-sex marriage remains in the House of Delegates, leaders of the chamber are considering allowing a "friendly" amendment Friday in hopes of courting one more supporter.
The amendment, sought by Del. John A. Olszewski Jr. (D-Baltimore County), would tweak language intended to provide protections to religious organizations whose beliefs are not compatible with same-sex marriage.
Accepting the amendment would be a departure for House leaders, who have sought to resist all amendments to the bill.
Passing the legislation in the same form as it was when it cleared the Senate two weeks ago would allow the House to send the bill directly to Gov. Martin O'Malley (D). Sending the bill back to the Senate could complicate its path in the remaining weeks of the 90-day session.
The House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the same-sex marriage bill, discussed Olszewski's amendment Thursday afternoon and plans to meet Friday before the House floor session to decide whether to recommend that their colleagues in the 141-member chamber accept it.
A final vote on the legislation is expected later Friday.
As it stands, the bill says that religious organizations that oppose same-sex marriage are not required to engage in a range of activities related to "the promotion of marriage, through religious programs, counseling, educational courses, summer camps, and retreats, in violation of the entity's religious beliefs."
Olszewski's amendment would cut the specific examples contained in the provision, in hopes of broadening the intended protections.