Md. House ends debate for the day on same-sex marriage
Update, 1:30 p.m.: The House will resume debate on the bill Friday, according to Alexandra M. Hughes, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel).
Delegates on both side of the debate say they expect the final vote to be very close.
"It's one of those unusual circumstances that's hard to predict," said House Majority Leader Kumar P. Barve (D-Montgomery).
Update, 12 p.m.: The House has wrapped up debate for the day on the same-sex marriage bill Wednesday after rejecting four amendments. A final vote on the legislation is expected later in the week.
The House narrowly rejected an amendment on a 72 to 63 vote that would have made the enactment of the same-sex marriage bill contingent on the failure of a statewide vote to write a ban on same-sex marriages into the Constitution.
Supporters of the amendment argued that it would ensure a public vote on same-sex marriage. Opponents said it was so cumbersome that it would effectively kill the bill.
The House also voted 86 to 54 against an amendment that would have allowed parents to opt their children out of sex education programs that reference same-sex relationships because of religious beliefs. Teachers could have opted out under the amendment, as well. Opponents said such provisions are already part of existing education regulations and don't belong in the bill.
The House also voted 52 to 85 against an amendment that would have changed the title of the bill from the "Civil Marriage Protection Act" to the "Same-sex Marriage Act."
Update, 11:10 a.m.: House debate on proposed amendments got under away about 10:45 a.m.
The House has rejected on a 79 to 58 vote an amendment that would allow religious-affiliated adoption agencies, such as Catholic Charities, to refuse services to same-sex couples. Opponents of the amendment argued that it violated an existing anti-discrimination law.
Original post: Debate over a same-sex marriage bill is expected to begin Wednesday morning in the Maryland House of Delegates, with supporters seeking to fend off a slew of amendments that could make passage of the law more difficult.
A final vote on the high-profile legislation could come later in the week.
The House is scheduled to convene at 10 a.m. and take up the same-sex marriage bill after handling some other business. Audio of the floor session is available here. We will provide live updates of major developments in this space as debate continues.
House leaders are angling to pass the bill in the same form that it cleared the Senate so that it can be sent directly to Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) for his signature. Any changes to the legislation would send it back to the Senate, complicating its path in the final weeks of the 90-day session.
The bill, which passed the Senate 25 to 21, would remove Maryland's legal requirement that marriage be between a man and a woman. The bill also states that religious organizations are not required to participate in same-sex weddings or celebrations if doing so violates their beliefs.
Among the proposed amendments expected Wednesday are some that would broaden the religious exemptions in the bill. During Senate debate, several such amendments were defeated, including one that would have allowed religiously affiliated adoption agencies to refuse services to same-sex couples. That provision is at odds with existing Maryland adoption regulations, bill supporters argued.
An amendment could also be offered on the House floor Wednesday to offer civil unions to gay couples instead of marriage. That proposed change was defeated last week after debate by the House Judiciary Committee, which deadlocked in a 10-10 vote, short of the majority needed for passage.
This post has been updated since it was first published.
| March 9, 2011; 1:44 PM ET
Categories: General Assembly, John Wagner, Same-Sex Marriage
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