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Maryland House of Delegates passes marriage equality bill

Marriage equality

By Adam Bink

Updated on 2/18 to reflect the correct vote count.  As in New Jersey, the button of a legislator in support of the bill did not work during voting.

A remarkable week for equality. Just now, the Maryland House of Delegates passed legislation legalizing marriage equality for same-sex couples, 72-67. Many may remember the House of Delegates did not take up the bill last year after it was clear it would not have sufficient support to pass.

The bill now proceeds to the Senate, where a modified version did pass last year, then onto Gov. O’Malley’s desk where he is expected to sign it. It’s also likely opponent would take the issue to the ballot, paving the way for 5 ballot questions on marriage equality this year if, as expected, opponents of equality in Washington State do the same.

If you want to follow full coverage of the debate and amendments, the Washington Blade has been following it the last few days.


  • 1. Sammy  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Amazing Week!

  • 2. Str8Grandmother  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    OMG this is so great!! It was the House of Delegates that was the stopping point last year, right? It will pass the Senate, right? I'm so happy!!

  • 3. Bob  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    woot woot whack-a-mole

  • 4. Mark  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Maryland did the right thing. Too bad New Jersey has a governor that is not forward thinking.

  • 5. Straight Ally #3008  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    What was that sucking sound? Oh yes, NOM's bank account draining….

  • 6. Kevin  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Will the law be on hold until a referendum?

  • 7. Bob  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    it has to pass through Senate,,,, to get to governor O'Mally,,,, who is waiting to sign,,, he's on our side woot woot

  • 8. Tim in Sonoma  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Great news! Nom's heading to the pew to look for reserves as we speak!

  • 9. Jim from CA  |  February 17, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Sounds like the House adopted an amendment to prevent the law from going into effect until after a referendum could (potentially) take place. I found the results of Jan 2012 poll that claims Marylanders support marriage equality by a 50/44 margin.

    Those numbers make me wary… the pre-decision polling of Prop 8 consistently demonstrated support for marriage equality at the 50ish/40ish level, and Prop 8 still passed.

    Does anybody have an opinion about how the referendum will go down in MD?

  • 10. Str8Grandmother  |  February 17, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    I don't know Jim in CA, but I know one thing, we need to support our citizens in Washington and Maryland with our efforts and with our financial contributions to the best of our abilities. We MUST not loose another one by referendum. And Maine, let's not forget Maine.

  • 11. Jacob  |  February 17, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    It is designed not to come into effect until 2013, after any referendum will have taken place, so effectively yes.

  • 12. Kevin  |  February 17, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Str8Grandmother is absolutely right. Donate now. Donate early. Donate often. I can't tell you how much energy we spent in the Prop 8 war room on fundraising that could have been directed toward communications, advertising, and outreach. You are also right to be extremely critical of polling numbers. MERI (or whichever organization takes the lead on this) will hire their own pollsters with much more refined methodologies. When No on 8 used these polls, we were down by far far more than the four percentage points by which we lost on election day. The only poll the matters is the one on election day.

  • 13. Tim in Sonoma  |  February 17, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Jim, I truly believe the support was there for marriage equality in Ca. in 2008. But dishonesty, fear tactics and out right lies from the Church's is what helped it pass. AND there was a lot of confusion, lots of people thought they were saying "YES" to marriage equality when in fact they were saying "NO" by mistake. As did my own father. Poor guy felt terrible! I believe if it was put up for a vote today we would have marriage equality.

    It looks like the Catholic Church might not have so much loose change laying around any more. This needs to happen here in the US as well——>

  • 14. Bob  |  February 17, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    yes tax the vatican!!!!!!!

  • 15. jpmassar  |  February 17, 2012 at 5:37 pm


  • 16. Str8Grandmother  |  February 17, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Yes, hell yes!

  • 17. Str8Grandmother  |  February 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    And Minnesota, with that awful M. Bachman. There will be a Constitutional Amendment up in Minnesota in November.

  • 18. Str8Grandmother  |  February 17, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    No topic on this yet but Attorney General Holder is not going to prevent Military families of sexual minorities from being discriminated against and I bet this gal was the straw that broke the camel's back. Warning, have kleenex ready.
    [youtube Y4OApehaYys&feature=colike youtube]

  • 19. Str8Grandmother  |  February 17, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    I don't see an edit button, should read "is going to prevent.." (erase the preceding word "not"

  • 20. Jimbo  |  February 17, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    According to the Washington Post, the vote was actually 72-67. The vote of Delegate John Bohanan Jr. was not recorded properly.

  • 21. Seth from Maryland  |  February 17, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    :) a great day for our state , but i know the real fight is now about to start, im going to be giving my energy and giving much as i can for our campaign to win this fight, wish us luck everyone

  • 22. John  |  February 17, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    " That this Act shall take effect 11 October 1, 2012"

    "Acts or parts of Acts passed at the 20 11 and 2012 Sessions of the General Assem bly, if they are
    successfully petitioned to referendum, will appear on the next general election ballot (November 6,
    Signatures may be placed on a referendum petition anytime after an Act has been passed by both
    houses of the General Assembly and before July 1 of the same year. Signatures may be placed on a
    Referendum Petition before the Governor signs the Act. The process cannot be initiated after May
    31 of the year of passage. Signatures m ay be gathered between June 1 and June 30 only if m ore
    than one-third of the required signatures were filed with the Secretary of State before June 1."

  • 23. Seth from Maryland  |  February 17, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    the opponent's got 2 amendments to pass , one changing the date for when the law goes into effect from october 2012 to jan 2013 , the other amendment was non-severability clause, very simiar to New York

  • 24. Seth from Maryland  |  February 17, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    so which state are we going to pass marriage equality next week ? lol :) these last 2 months have been great for equality

  • 25. John  |  February 17, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    That really doesn't make any sense. There doesn't say anything about the process of having to get 2 petitions for each amendments on the bill on the Maryland Secretary Of State web site.

  • 26. _BK_  |  February 17, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Now it's up to us to keep the momentum going until the November elections. Let's get to work! (:

  • 27. MrTipper  |  February 18, 2012 at 2:24 am

    I'm proud of my state!! The House was the only hurdle last year. It's sure to pass the Senate now!

  • 28. Kate  |  February 18, 2012 at 5:26 am

    Kathleen, help! Is this "Intervenor – Pending" status a real thing????

  • 29. Str8Grandmother  |  February 18, 2012 at 5:32 am

    It looks like the amendment that delays the start of the law until January 1 2013 (after a referendum) went through. But According to the Washington Post this amendment also went through

    "An amendment from Delegate Tiffany Alston, a Prince George’s Democrat who previously opposed to the bill, was accepted by the members, a move opponents suggested secured her vote. It would keep the law from going into effect until any litigation related to a potential voters’ referendum on the measure is processed."

    This disturbs me. I read this to be, that even when we win a Public Referendum, and the opponents loose they can then start a law suit and the law does not go into effect until that lawsuit is over. This is death by 10,000 paper cuts…

    I wish we could see the actual words of these amendments. I cna't find them.

  • 30. Jim from CA  |  February 18, 2012 at 7:28 am

    There were only two successful amendments: (1) delaying the effect of the law until Jan 1 2013, and (2) a non-severability clause.

    The quote you provided is actually describing (1). I'm also confused about the scope of this amendment. I thought the reason for waiting until Jan 1 was to give voters the opportunity for a referendum. What happens if there is a lawsuit? I'd really like some clarification here.

    As for (2), the amendment just says that if the religious exemptions are scrapped then the whole law is scrapped. No biggie since none of the equality supporters want to force anything on churches.

  • 31. Jim from CA  |  February 18, 2012 at 7:33 am

    @Kevin and @Str8Grandmother – Who would I donate money to?

  • 32. Seth from Maryland  |  February 18, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Rhode Island would now be a good place to use our momentum

  • 33. Jessica  |  February 18, 2012 at 7:53 am

    It amazes me that no one actually utilizes google lol 😉 The bill and any amendmends are located at:

  • 34. _BK_  |  February 18, 2012 at 8:03 am

    I honestly am dumbfounded that Rhode Island still does not have marriage equality. Does anyone have any good links or information concerning marriage equality in Rhode Island?

  • 35. Seth from Maryland  |  February 18, 2012 at 8:30 am

    i think there supose to be a marriage equality bill put forward this week or next week

  • 36. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  February 18, 2012 at 9:00 am

  • 37. Str8Grandmother  |  February 18, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Many Thanks Jim & Jessica!

    Here is the link to Amendment 1 to the bill

    Here is the link to Amendment 2 of the Bill
    Here are the words of the Amendment I was interested in-

    "if a petition to refer this Act to the people is filed with the Secretary of State in accordance with Article XVI of the Maryland Constitution and Title 6 of the Election Law Article, and a dispute arises as to the validity or sufficiency of the signatures required to complete the referendum petition as provided under Title 6 of the Election Law Article, this Act shall not take effect until the resolution of any litigation resulting from the dispute."

    Jessica I had actually visited that web page but regrettably did not scroll way down to the bottom of the page where the Amendments are. Many thanks for finding this for us.

  • 38. Ron  |  February 20, 2012 at 7:44 am

    Hi All,
    Off topic (sort of)…..I haven't seen anything for several days about what the "proponents" in California are deciding to do with appealing the 9th circuit court's decision. Anybody know anything new about this? Are they going to ask for the En Banc review, or skip that and appeal straight to the SCOTUS?? I'm surprised that there's nothing being said about this in recent days.

  • 39. Kate  |  February 20, 2012 at 7:51 am

    We won't know until the last possible minute for them to appeal. They never do anything ahead of time!

  • 40. Leo  |  February 20, 2012 at 9:13 am

    They sometimes do: they filed a notice of appeal from the district court on the very same day as Judge Walker's decision.

  • 41. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  February 23, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    […] debated and passed a bill to bring marriage equality to the state by a vote of 25-22.  The measure passed the House of Delegates earlier this week by a vote of 72-67.  Last year, the bill passed the state […]

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