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Md. same-sex marriage bill up for vote next week

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will vote next Thursday on legislation to permit same-sex marriage in Maryland.

Sen. Brian E. Frosh, D-Montgomery, the panel’s chairman and a supporter of the measure, told the committee late Wednesday he will not accept any requests to delay the vote on the most contentious issue of this General Assembly session. Committee approval of the legislation, Senate Bill 116, appears certain, as six of the 11 panel members are sponsors of the bill.

A marathon hearing on the same-sex marriage legislation Tuesday filled the committee room and an overflow room, as more than 140 people signed up to testify. The intensity of that hearing might seem quaint compared to the rancor expected when the bill gets to the Senate floor.

“It’s family-involved, it’s kids-involved, it’s religion-involved, it’s best friends-involved,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert and Prince George’s. “You can’t question anybody’s vote on this issue.”

Miller, who opposes same-sex marriage, said he anticipates a vigorous debate that will end only with a vote by 29 of the Senate’s 47 members to invoke cloture.

“I want everybody to speak, I want everybody to be heard and then everybody to participate in rebuttal,” Miller said. “But when it appears that people are just repeating themselves on and on and on, then we’ll try to get cloture.”

The House of Delegates, meanwhile, is taking a wait-and-see approach.

“We’re waiting on action in the Senate,” said House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel. “We know it’ll be contentious in the Senate and if a bill passes we’ll take it up in that form.”