House moves gay marriage bill back to committee

debate over for the year

March 11, 2011|By Julie Bykowicz | Baltimore Sun reporter

Debate on whether Maryland should legalize same-sex marriage has ended for the year, without the House of Delegates weighing in on the divisive issue.

Instead of voting as planned today, the House moved the bill backward -- returning it to the committee that nearly killed it last week. House Speaker Michael E. Busch said his chamber won't see the issue on the floor again this year, even though the Senate passed it last month by a vote of 25-21.

By moving it back into committee rather than taking a final vote, the 141 delegates avoided putting on record their position on gay marriage.

Had a vote been taken today, it would have come within a delegate or two of passage, House leaders said. Advocates believe they were a single vote shy.

"The vote would have been very close on the floor, make no mistake about it," said Busch, who supports same-sex marriage.

About 10 delegates did not feel comfortable casting a vote today, Busch said, and wanted more time to learn about what the bill would do.

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