ANNAPOLIS - Gita Dean and Lisa Polyak represent just one of the many couples hoping to gain by this legislative session's attempt to legalize same-sex marriages.
"We're passed ready. Our children are passed ready for us to be treated the same way our next door neighbors are,” said Lisa.
"While it's love that makes a family, it's marriage that protects a family," said Delegate Heather Mizeur, District 20.
Supporters for the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act crowded the podium. This bill would not only allow same-sex marriages, but also protect clergy and religious groups which may, while holding to their beliefs, conduct these marriages.
Delegate Keiffer Mitchell of the 44th district, whose family has a long history of fighting for equal rights, is a co-sponsor of the bill.
"We can no longer continue to treat a segment of our citizens in Maryland as second class citizens," said Delegate Mitchell.
What is expected to be one of the key issues brought forward this session, this bill already has the support from Majority Leaders of both the House and the Senate.
"It's time that we get full marriage equality. And that we get it in 2011,” said Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola.
"I strongly support this. I do this on behalf of all my friends and neighbors, family members who are gay, who all ought to have the same rights that my wife and I have," said House Majority Leader Kumar Brave.
However, there are those in the state legislature against the bill.
"I believe that most of the citizens in the state of Maryland agree that some type of a civil union ought to be granted. But they draw the line when you take the term ‘marriage’. And I think that's going to play itself out as we go through the legislative process. And we will see how it happens," explained Delegate Don Dwyer, District 31.
Delegate Dwyer expects the bill to make it through committee, and welcomes the chance to debate the issue on the floor.