ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland senators are inching closer to approving gay marriage in the state after tweaking the measure a bit.
State senators voted 25-22 Wednesday to advance the measure to a final vote, which could come as soon as Thursday. Sen. John Astle, D-Annapolis and the only Anne Arundel senator who had not said how he would come down on the issue, voted against the measure.
In the process, lawmakers added further protections for religious groups to exempt them from having to provide educational services or insurance coverage for gay couples. They also changed the official name of the bill — stripping the words "Religious Freedom" from the title — to make it the "Civil Marriage Protection Act."
Supporters of the bill defeated numerous proposals from opponents that would have allowed court clerks to refuse to marry gay couples, kept schools from "promoting same-sex marriage" and renamed the bill "Same-Sex Marriage."