The Maryland Senate advanced legislation allowing same-sex marriages on a preliminary vote of 25 to 22, all but ensuring passage of the measure in that chamber. The action ... followed several hours of debate on amendments designed to make exceptions for people whose religious beliefs are at odds with the notion of same-sex couples marrying.
Twenty-four votes were needed. The 25th vote was Joan Carter Conway, the veteran Baltimore Democrat who last week said she "would 'pray real hard' and vote for the bill if hers was the deciding vote." It wasn't the deciding vote, but nice to have that cushion.
The roll call is HERE.
The bill was amended so that religious organizations - like the Knights of Columbus - would not have to provide insurance to same-sex couples. Bill sponsors supported the change. The only unfriendly change adopted was Sen. Anthony Muse's suggestion to name the bill the "Civil Marriage Protection Act." It was introduced as the "Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.
If passed, Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley has said he would sign the bill. Maryland would join five other states and the District of Columbia to allow same-sex marriages. Since February 2010, Maryland has recognized valid same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
A final Senate vote could happen as soon as Thursday.