Maryland was widely expected to become the next U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage but the plan crashed and burned March 11.
The bill to legalize gay marriage had passed the Senate and had the governor’s support, but, at the last minute, after almost three hours of debate in the House of Delegates, supporters realized they did not have the votes there.
The bill then was returned to committee by a voice vote.
According to one report, key House opponents included African American legislators from Prince George’s County and conservative Democrats from the Baltimore area and the southern part of the state.
“While we are disappointed the House did not vote to pass marriage equality today, we are confident we will win in the future,” Equality Maryland said in a statement. “It is best to delay this historic vote until we are absolutely sure we have the votes to win.”
Same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C. In addition, same-sex marriages from anywhere in the world are recognized as marriages in Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island and California (if the marriage took place before Proposition 8 passed) even though those states do not let same-sex couples marry.
Meanwhile, in the run-up to the House of Delegates debate, Delegate Peter Murphy told the Washington Blade on March 9 that he’s gay. “I have never denied (being gay). I just presumed people knew,” he said. There are six other openly gay members of the Maryland House, and one openly gay senator.