The measure was approved in the House last Friday with a single vote to spare after a dramatic week in which four lawmakers switched their position to favor the bill.

The Senate reacted rapidly — shooting the House version of the bill through committee in a brief voting session Tuesday and putting it on the floor Wednesday. The chamber took the rare step of debating and passing the bill in a single day Thursday.

The sharpest moment of the morning debate came when Sen. Bryan Simonaire, an Anne Arundel Republican who opposes the bill, stood and read the children's book "King & King," which he said has been used in Massachusetts to teach young children about homosexual relationships.

In the book, a prince rejects a series of princesses, but finally finds love and marries another prince. Simonaire showed the body the final page, where two princes kiss. The senator noted that the two kiss "on the lips."

Simonaire said he fears that such a book could be taught in Maryland schools.

Several senators objected — in Maryland, the General Assembly does not dictate curriculum; school boards do. Sen. Delores G. Kelley, a Baltimore County Democrat, noted that she participates on a curriculum task force and the book is "nothing that I've ever seen before."

Others noted that parents in Maryland participate in the curriculum development process and can pull their children from some classes if they object to the content.

The argument will likely be replayed multiple times if the referendum does go forward. In other states, ads showing that gay marriage will be "taught in schools" have been effective in defeating similar laws at the ballot box.

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