Maryland moves forward on gay marriage

Maryland state senators will spend most of today engrossed in a debate over whether to make Maryland the sixth state in the nation to legalize gay marriage.

The minimum of senators needed to advance the bill – 24 – have said publicly they will support the measure. Republicans have said they do not have the votes to filibuster, making senate passage likely.

The measure was approved by a senate committee last week and could be sent to the House of Delegates as early as next week. That chamber is more liberal and approval there should be easier.

But proposed amendments to the bill, including one added in committee last week to strengthen religious exemptions, could significantly slow approval.

Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley supports same-sex marriage and most observers expect the state to join Washington, D.C., and five other states in which it is legal.

The National Organization for Marriage has hired Lawrence Research to work against same-sex marriage in Maryland. The Orange County, Calif.-based firm was heavily involved in the campaign to pass Proposition 8, which overturned gay marriage in that state.

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