Maryland's House of Delegates passed a bill by a vote of 72-67 Friday (Feb. 17) that would legalize gay "marriage," sending the bill to the Senate, which passed a similar bill last year. Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley used his State of the State address in January to endorse the bill and has pledged to sign it. Once it's signed, churches can begin collecting signatures to place the issue on the ballot, where voters essentially can veto it.
Maryland likely will join voters in Washington and Maine in deciding in November whether to legalize gay "marriage." Meanwhile Minnesota voters (November) and North Carolinians (May) will vote this year on whether to define marriage as between a man and a woman in their respective state constitutions.
The Maryland House was considered to be the biggest hurdle for the bill. Last year Democratic leaders pulled it from the House floor because it lacked the necessary votes.
Democrats control both chambers, but the bill had a tough climb in the House because of opposition from African American members who were pressured by black church leaders.
Voting against the bill were 26 Democrats and 41 Republicans, The Washington Post reported.
"Same-sex marriage is wrong," Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr. told members, according to The Post. "I believe that people who are gay have a right to be that, but the word 'marriage' should not be attached."
Burns is pastor of Rising Sun First Baptist Church in Gwynn Oak.
"I lost the first round, but I'll tell you about the second round," Burns told church members during his sermon Sunday, according to The Baltimore Sun. "We're going to win this thing."
If the referendum does qualify for the ballot, traditionalists likely will spotlight two themes that have proven successful in other states: 1) children need mothers and fathers and 2) legalizing gay "marriage" will have negative consequences on religious freedoms and what is taught in elementary schools.
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.
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