Same-sex marriage moves toward final vote
A proposal to allow same-sex couples to marry survived amendment attempts today and is scheduled to be up for final passage Friday in the House of Delegates.
Delegates may continue to try to amend the bill then, but supporters fended off four changes in a morning debate session.
The closest vote came just before the debate ended. Del. Aisha Braveboy, a Prince George's County Democrat who does not support gay marriage, suggested taking the issue directly to voters. A preliminary tally showed that amendment failed by a vote of 63 to 72, but gay marriage opponents said they are likely to try for a similar amendment on Friday.
Because the House is voting on a Senate plan, delegates are allowed to amend the bill when it is up for final passage -- something they cannot do on House bills.
The tone of the 90-minute debate was mostly mild-mannered. Same-sex marriage supporters argued that the amendments were off-point.
The first try would have afforded church groups and others who provide adoption services and foster care protection if they do not condone same-sex marriage.
Bill supporters successfully argued that current laws against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation already clearly spell out what such groups may and may not do.
That amendment failed on by 58 to 79, a preliminary tally shows.
Delegates also tried to amend the bill to allow parents and teachers who do not support homosexuality to opt out of any curriculum on the topic. Bill supporters said that, too, is covered by current laws and regulations.
Next, Del. Andrew Serafini, a Washington County Republican, asked to change the title of the bill from Civil Marriage Protection Act to Same-Sex Marriage Act, saying it was a more genuine description of what the bill does. That, too, failed.
Delegates said they anticipate more hours of debate and amendment tries on Friday. It's unclear whether the legislation has enough votes to pass. If it does, Gov. Martin O'Malley has promised to sign it into law.