ANNAPOLIS – Opponents of gay marriage failed again Friday to get the House of Delegates to vote on the issue.
But Republicans vowed to continue their fight to get a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on the November ballot, saying the action will now shift to the state Senate. Democrats say the bill will have no better chance there.
The defeat Friday came even though 19 Democrats joined in supporting a rarely-used parliamentary procedure to bring the bill to the floor after it was rejected Thursday by a House committee.
The fight over gay marriage has emerged as the most contentious of the 2006 legislative session.
Republicans, joined by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, have been pushing for a constitutional amendment since a Baltimore judge struck down the 1973 law barring same sex marriage two weeks ago. The ruling has been stayed pending appeal, and Democrats have made it clear they want the appeal to run its course before legislative action is taken – preferably after the November election.
Republicans, however, want to keep the issue very much alive.
“There are other bills,” Delegate Michael D. Smigiel, R – Eastern Shore, said. “It’s an important issue and I think we’re going to try to address the possible ramifications of the decision being upheld by the appellate courts while session is out.”
Despite the support of the 19 Democrats, the effort on Friday to reject the committee action and bring the bill to the floor failed in a 78-61 vote. Republicans said they hoped that by bringing the bill to the floor, Democrats who would otherwise have preferred to avoid the issue would feel political pressure to take a position.
On the other hand, Democrats are expressing increasing annoyance at the Republican efforts. “There are a lot of other issues that I’m emotional about,” Dan K. Morhaim, D – Baltimore County, said. “They might not be as glamorous . . . but I hope the legislature can get to those matters as well.”