The Maryland Senate is on the verge of approving same-sex marriage after considering a slew of amendments Thursday morning and pushing the legislation to a final vote later in the day.
After overwhelmingly striking down seven amendments to the Civil Marriage Protection Act, the chamber adjourned until 4 p.m., when it is expected to consider additional amendments and cast a final vote to send the legislation to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s desk for his promised signature.
“I think people recognize that there’s a good possibility the bill’s going to pass, perhaps with an increased majority in the Senate than it did last year,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., adding that he expects the afternoon session to last about an hour.
The bill was projected to move quickly through the Senate after narrowly passing in the House of Delegates Friday.
“It should be wrapped up by the end of this week, legislatively,” said O’Malley, in a Wednesday interview on SiriusXM Radio.
Debate Thursday morning focused mainly on amending the language of the bill to further protect public schools and religious institutions, motions that floor leader Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery, referred to as “graffiti on the bill.”
Supporters expect the bill to pass the Senate unchanged because any amendment to HB 438 would send it back to the House, potentially killing it, as both chambers begin to debate O’Malley’s proposed budget in the coming weeks.
But bill opponents in the Senate vowed Thursday morning to keep pushing debate and amendments, despite stiff resistance from bill supporters.
“It’s the Senate’s obligation to put together the best piece of legislation that protects religious freedom, deals with the education system,” Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin, R-Cecil, told reporters after the Thursday morning session.
“We should take the best product we can get and send it back to the House,” he said.