ANNAPOLIS – Del. Jill P. Carter, one of two lawmakers who on Tuesday held up a committee vote on legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage, refused to discuss the situation Wednesday morning, leaving the fate of the high-profile bill in doubt.
The lawmaker, a Baltimore City Democrat, left the House of Delegates floor without answering reporters’ questions.
The second Tuesday holdout, Del. Tiffany T. Alston, D-Prince George’s, released a statement at 1:51 a.m. Wednesday that said she would vote on the bill.
The statement said Alston needed “more time to weigh my decision.”
Like Carter, Alston is a sponsor of the same-sex marriage legislation.
“I believe all people should be treated equally regardless of their sexual orientation,” Alston wrote. She did not explicitly say how she would vote, only that she would do so “based on what I believe to be right.”
Carter said yesterday that the same-sex marriage bill, which has moved quickly through the House after passing the Senate last week, should not have greater importance than education funding for Baltimore City schools.
Gov. Martin O’Malley’s budget would reduce funding for Baltimore schools by $15.3 million.
“I am for the [same-sex] marriage bill. I just don’t think it’s the only bill on the table,” Carter said Tuesday. “One group’s civil rights are not more important that the civil rights of another,” she added, referring to the rights of gays and lesbians to marry and the rights of Baltimore’s school children to a quality education.
Carter met with House Speaker Michael E. Busch on Tuesday, but didn’t budge from her position.
On Wednesday, Del. Heather Mizeur, one of the state’s seven openly gay lawmakers, described the episode as a “hiccup,” adding that she believes the bill will pass the committee and have enough votes for final passage on the House floor.
“I believe most members of the body believe issues of civil rights aren’t issues to be horse traded with,” Mizeur said.