Maryland's House Judiciary Committee voted today 12-10 in favor of the passage of Senate Bill 116.
The bill now moves on to the House of Delegates for a floor vote. That vote is expected in the coming week. SB-116 passed through the Senate on Feb. 24, with a 25-21 vote.
The vote came after several amendments were discussed on March 4, including one by Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington County) to allow grandmothers to marry their grandsons. That amendment was withdrawn.
If signed into law, the legislation would grant same-sex couples in the state legal marriage recognition, while also protecting the rights of religious institutions to handle issues of marriage however they see fit.
Opponents have threatened to take the issue to take the marriage legislation to the ballot box. According to Maryland's State Board of Elections, opponents of the marriage bill can start collecting signatures for a statewide referendum immediately after the passage of the bill in the House of Delegates, before Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) signs the bill.
A total of 55,736 signatures are required on the petition and must be submitted to Secretary of State John P. McDonough (D) by June 30. One third of those signatures are due on May 31.
[UPDATED @ 2:45: In a statement issued by Equality Maryland following the vote, Del. Kumar Barve, lead sponsor of the bill says:
"To me, this legislation is all about family, liberty and respect. I respect the civil liberties of same-sex couples who wish to solemnize their relations and families in the eyes of the law. I also respect the values of those in our society who are not comfortable with same-sex relationships. Surely there is enough space in America for all of us to build our lives and families as we choose and live next to each other."]