Same-sex marriage bill passes first hurdle in Senate
By Annie Linskey
Feb 23, 2011 at 7:17 AM
Maryland's Senate voted 25-22 in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry after a fairly short and focused debate.
The bill has not yet cleared the body, but the vote is a positive sign for supporters of the legislation. It could go to final passage as early as Thursday. (See vote tally after the jump.)
The supporters beat back a series of unfriendly amendments during the morning debate. Most were offered by Republican members who wanted to make technical changes to the bill that would allow more people or businesses to opt-out of providing services at same-sex wedding ceremonies.
The bill was amended so that religious organizations - like the Knights of Columbus - would not have to provide insurance to same-sex couples. Bill sponsors supported the change.
The only unfriendly change adopted was Sen. Anthony Muse's suggestion to name the bill the "Civil Marriage Protection Act." It was introduced as the "Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.