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Maryland House Committee Approves Marriage Equality Bill

March 04, 2011 2:23 pm ET by Equality Matters staff

The Maryland House Judiciary Committee voted 12-10 today to approve HB 175, a bill that would allow gay and lesbian couples in the state to get married. The bill now moves to the full House, where a final vote is expected sometime next week. Chairman Vallario voted in favor of the bill, allowing it to reach the minimum 12 votes needed to be approved by the committee, despite one delegate, Del. Tiffany Alston, withdrawing her support for the bill at the last minute. 

At 2:20 PM ET, Equality Maryland announced that the Civil Marriage Protection Act had been approved by the committee via Twitter.

The committee vote is a welcome relief to proponents of marriage equality who worried this week about several committee members who seemed to waiver in their support of the bill.

Earlier in the week, Del. Alston revealed that she needed time to “think and to pray” about her position on the bill, even attempting to introduce an amendment that would grant civil unions to any couples seeking to get married in Maryland, gay or straight. She ended up voting against the bill. 

Del. Jill Carter also announced that she intended to use her committee vote as leverage in order to attract attention to several of her own pet projects. She eventually agreed to support the bill.

Most notably, however, was Del. Sam Arora’s flip-flopping on supporting the bill. Although he consistently pledged to vote for the bill in committee, he reportedly announced that he would vote against the bill if it reached the House floor. Arora, who co-sponsored the bill and pledged to support marriage equality during his campaign, faced tremendous criticism from constituents who accused him of lying to them about his position in order to collect donations. Earlier today, Arora announced that he would vote for the bill both in committee and on the House floor but will push for a referendum to allow the Maryland public is able to vote for the bill in a public referendum.

Passage of HB 175 on the House floor is still far from certain.  Republicans and anti-gay groups have come together to stop the bill, even relying on materials produced by a known hate group.

It is crucial that Maryland residents make their voices hear and urge their representatives in the House to support HB175. Marylanders call your delegates and demand they stand in support of the marriage equality bill.