Opponents opened with two of the most vocal House critics of same-sex marriage: Burns and Del. Don Dwyer.

Dwyer, an Anne Arundel County Republican, has said he has no agenda this year other than to defeat the governor's bill. He employed a tactic that has proved effective in other states: warning that legalizing same-sex marriage would lead to homosexuality being taught to children.

Dwyer passed around a children's book titled "King & King" about two men who get married. He said that such materials could be used in grade schools should the bill become law.

Del. Bonnie L. Cullison, a Montgomery County Democrat, shot back that the bill "in no way" mandates changes in curriculum.

In Maryland, she noted, local school systems have a process for vetting materials that includes review by parents, teachers and community leaders.

One of the most stunning moments came when Burns, a Baltimore County Democrat, told the panel that he was propositioned by men for sex on two occasions when he was growing up in Mississippi.

"Even as a boy, I knew there was something wrong with that," Burns said. "Nobody had to tell me."

Burns said that the same instinct tells him that "there is something wrong with men marrying men."

The Senate held a hearing last week on an identical bill. That chamber passed a same-sex marriage bill last year.

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