The Maryland State Senate [official website] Judicial Proceedings Committee [official website] approved a bill [SB241 text] on Tuesday that would permit the legal marriage of same-sex couples within the state. This bill is a cross-filing of HB438 which was approved [JURIST report] by the Maryland House of Delegates [official website] last week. The bill is expected to move to debate by the full Senate [WP report] after the Committee approved the measure with a vote of 7-4. A similar bill was proposed last year in Maryland but failed to pass the House [JURIST report] after it was approved by the Senate. If approved by all parties, Maryland would become the eighth state, along with the District of Columbia, to allow same-sex marriage. Governor Martin O'Malley [official website] has promised to sign the bill [WP report] once it passes the Senate.
Maryland joins a number of other states working to pass legislation that would allow same-sex couples to marry. Earlier this week, Washington state legalized same-sex marriage [JURIST report] after Governor Christine Gregoire signed the legislation. New Jersey is also considering legalizing same-sex marriage soon, although it currently has a civil union system in place. Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a same-sex marriage bill [JURIST report] last week and called for a voter referendum to decide the issue, rather than the state legislature. In November, a lawsuit [JURIST report] was allowed to continue in New Jersey, which seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against the state civil union law as a contravention of both the Fourteenth Amendment and the New Jersey State Constitution. Same-sex marriage has also been legalized in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia [JURIST reports].