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Posted at 1:04 PM ET, 03/11/2011

Debate begins ahead of Maryland same-sex marriage vote

By John Wagner

Thumbnail image for MD-OpeningDay-House.JPGUpdate, 12:50 p.m.:

The House has rejected on a voice vote a proposed amendment that would have offered civil unions to gay couples instead of marriage.

The amendment was offered by Del. Cheryl D. Glenn (D-Baltimore), who cast it as a compromise. Opponents of the provision said it would create a "separate but equal" institution and urged its rejection.

Update, 12:30 p.m.:

The House has rejected by voice vote an amendment offered by Del. John A. Olszewski Jr. (D-Baltimore County) that sought to broaden the religious exceptions in the same-sex marriage bill. The amendment would have forced the bill to go back to the Senate for additional consideration if it passed the House.

Olszewski has been on the fence about the bill, and House leaders had mulled accommodating him to win his vote.

Debate, which has been impassioned on both sides, began around 11:40 a.m. Much of the early discussion had centered on whether allowing same-sex marriages should be considered a civil rights issue.

Original post:

High drama is anticipated on the floor of the Maryland House of Delegates on Friday, as lawmakers decide the fate of a bill that would allow same-sex marriages.

As of late Thursday night, several bill supporters acknowledged they still remain short of the 71 votes needed to send the bill to Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), who has said he wants to sign it. The Senate has already approved the legislation.

A full range of possibilities could play out on Friday, including failure of the bill on the House floor. Some supporters said they remain hopeful they can sway a couple of colleagues during debate, and there was also talk Thursday afternoon about amending the legislation. That would send it back to the Senate.

You can listen to Friday's floor debate here. We will also provide updates in this space as they occur.

The House is scheduled to convene at 11 a.m. The starting time will almost certainly be delayed, however, because of separate meetings scheduled for Democrats and Republicans to talk about the upcoming debate.

The House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the bill, is also expected to meet shortly before the floor session to decide whether to accept an amendment that could help cement the support of one wavering Democrat.

If the bill passes, Maryland would join five other states and the District in allowing same-sex marriages. The bill could be put on hold, however, pending the outcome of a statewide referendum.

By John Wagner  | March 11, 2011; 1:04 PM ET
Categories:  Same-Sex Marriage  
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Comments

Good luck to supporters of the bill. Some day people will look back on all the angst over gay marriage and wonder what the fuss was about.

Posted by: 1toughlady | March 11, 2011 8:02 AM | Report abuse

I've always liked living in Maryland because of all the intelligent, educated people I meet on a regular basis. I truly hope the delegates are intelligent and educated enough to see past the lies being told about the LGBT community by those opposed to same-sex marriage. There is no good reason for not having a big Kumbaya moment and realizing we can actually live together and get along without all the aggro.

Posted by: xaxton | March 11, 2011 8:21 AM | Report abuse

As a long-time MD resident, I would be proud to see same sex marriage finally become legal in Maryland. As more and more states give leagal recognition to same sex marriage, the federal government will have to eventually follow.

Posted by: mddg7772 | March 11, 2011 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Plain and simple. It's a basic matter of fairness for everyone. Let's pass this bill and move on to other important matters.

Posted by: KenG3 | March 11, 2011 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Especially in Pop Gun County: we should not be obsessed with what gay couples are doing in their homes as much as we should be worrying about heterosexual couples who are making babies out of wed lock and filling up out adoption centers.

Let's see Pop Gun County churches address the real social issues for a change.

Posted by: localgoober | March 11, 2011 9:21 AM | Report abuse

localgoober wrote:

"Especially in Pop Gun County: we should not be obsessed with what gay couples are doing in their homes as much as we should be worrying about heterosexual couples who are making babies out of wed lock and filling up out adoption centers."
_________________________

Simple local question:

Does redefining marriage such that it has nothing to do with "making babies" (i.e. it is merely an agreement between any two consenting adults)further encourage heterosexual couples to get married before they start making babies?

Posted by: captn_ahab | March 11, 2011 9:29 AM | Report abuse

i see the wapo has purged about 50 comments or so. don't have a forum if you want to censor it to death. If posters don't want to be "offended" they shouldn't comment on topics they either know nothing about, or if they want to parrott something they heard some talking head say. I don't know why i bother anyway, I think wapo's forums are about the worst imaginable. Oooh, he called me a name wapos! waaaah, waaaah, waaah. pathetic.

Posted by: red2million | March 11, 2011 9:36 AM | Report abuse

MD should pass this bill into law now...it is ironic that once again, people who have been so oppressed in the past seek to continue oppression on others. Just goes to prove that Paulo Friere's late 1960's tome, "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" is still true and alive all these years later. However, I am sure that many of the naysayers have never read this book!

Posted by: fairness3 | March 11, 2011 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I guess today we'll see who the cowards are, and we'll find out if Maryland thinks it's a theocracy. Vote this in, and show the nation Maryland wants to part of the 21st century. All citizens should be treated exactly the same.

Posted by: jckdoors | March 11, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

red2million: Just curious--how can you tell that WaPo purged lots of comments?

Posted by: Dan4 | March 11, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Marriage is the union between man and women. Always has been and should always be. This is from a religious and government perspective. Keep it that way.

Love is love and I don't have a problem with providing gays the same rights, privileges, etc., just call it a union or something else. If gays think that is discriminatory, have them look up the definition of marriage. Union of man and women.

I don't see this passing anyway with supporter being 71 votes down and cosponsors of the bill changing their votes. Gays make up such a small amount of the population. Certainly smaller than the Catholic and other anti-gay population. So, more time and money wasted debating issues that don't help the majority of Marylanders.

Posted by: neil64 | March 11, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Come on, Maryland. Do the right thing here. History will thank you - and so will the economy.

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | March 11, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Neil64: I disagree. "Marriage" is a word -- one that has been coopted since ancient times to refer to lots of different pairings. These can be marriages of men and women, or of flavors in a recipe. I think the semantics arguments on this issue are the absolute weakest. We may not agree on the right answer for legal marriage, but to play word games dumbs down the real debate and doesn't help anyone.

Posted by: CJH2 | March 11, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

People used to reference the biblical storybook to claim that interracial marriage was improper.

If Catholic Charities is allowed to not service Gay couples, then what is there to stop them from refusing to service interracial couples?

If Catholic Charities is going to service citizens of The United States, then they must service ALL citizens of The United States.

Posted by: localgoober | March 11, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

People used to reference the biblical storybook to claim that interracial marriage was improper.

If Catholic Charities is allowed to not service Gay couples, then what is there to stop them from refusing to service interracial couples?

If Catholic Charities is going to service citizens of The United States, then they must service ALL citizens of The United States.
-----------
DUH, IT'S CALLED FREEDOM OF RELIGION, AND IT'S IN THE US CONSTITUTION, DUH!! IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT, UNLESS YOU DON'T MIND LOOKING LIKE A FOOL. ANYWAY, ANYONE WHO SUPPORTS SO CALLED SAME SEX "MARRIAGE" IS A BENT UP FOOL!!

Posted by: nakiberu | March 11, 2011 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Maryland is full of wimps.

Posted by: FLvet | March 11, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

So, civil unions has been rejected as a compromise to changing the definition of marriage in Maryland.

So be it.

Let the bill pass, and the referendum appear on the November 2012 ballot.

In that way, all Marylanders, who are interested, will have an equal say in changing the definition of the most fundamental social unit in the state.

Let the side with the greatest number of votes prevail, and all Marylanders will live with the results.

That is democracy.

Let the rumpus begin!!

Posted by: captn_ahab | March 11, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations Maryland, you are on the right side of history. FYI - Our gay troops are saying "Do Ask, Do Tell" now at http://OutMilitary.com - the New Social Network for Gay Service members.

Posted by: skoa | March 11, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Homos can't donate blood because of their behavior. Why would we allow them to marry? The CDC just last July made it clear Homosexual behavior bars them from donating blood for life. The reason is simple. They spread HIV and other major diseases. So why would we encourage homosexuality? Politicians need to discourage it. Stop Promoting and Trying to accpect a behavior that is completely self destructive. The UK and most European nations also reaffirmed their ban of homosexuals from donating blood. Politicians don't mind telling smokers stop smoking but they try and accept that Homosexuality is perfectly healthy and normal even though the CDC and FDA clearly show it is not. Homosexuality is a Health Risk to our society. HIV is out of control in the homosexual community. Its time to shun the behavior but not hate the individual.

Posted by: tedy2 | March 11, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

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