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Maryland House to take final vote on gay marriage

Maryland House to take final vote on gay marriage

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ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland House of Delegates is preparing to take its final vote gay marriage, in what could be the last step before Gov. Martin O’Malley signs the bill into law.

The House is set to begin deliberations at 11 a.m. Friday.

The House Judiciary Committee is set to consider — 10 minutes before the full House meets — a last-minute change to the bill which would broaden language to keep religious groups from being forced to participate in gay weddings and potentially secure the 71 votes needed for passage.

House leaders have resisted previous attempts to amend the bill — cautioning supporters that the Senate would not consider any changes.

If approved, Maryland would become the sixth state to legalize gay marriage, although opponents have promised to petition the issue to a public referendum if the bill passes.

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