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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Maryland Marriage Vote Delayed in House Committee

By Yusef Najafi -

Maryland’s House Judiciary Committee was scheduled to vote on House Bill 175, the House version of the marriage bill which was approved on the Senate floor last week, this afternoon, March 1.
But the vote was delayed. In an e-mail sent to Metro Weekly, Del. Luke H. Clippinger (D-Baltimore City), who is gay, confirmed that the committee vote has been delayed.
“It will be rescheduled to after the bill hearings that were previously scheduled for today,” he wrote. “Precise time is unknown.” Asked if that vote would happen on March 1, Clippinger added, "hearings sometimes go very, very late."
According NBC Baltimore, the vote was delayed because two delegates, and supporters of the bill, were absent.
House Bill 175, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, seeks to establish that “a marriage between two individuals who are not otherwise prohibited from marrying is valid in the State; prohibiting an official of a religious institution or body authorized to solemnize marriages from being required to solemnize any marriage in violation of the constitutional right to free exercise of religion; etc.”
Metro Weekly reported on Feb. 28 about the process involved in any referendum effort to stop the bill, if enacted, from going into effect. Opponents have said they intend to seek a referendum vote.
[UPDATE @ 6:45 PM: The Baltimore Sun reported on Tuesday evening that a vote would not happen on March 2.
The House Judiciary Committee did not vote on same-sex marriage this evening. Delegates on the committee, even some sponsors, say they need more time to think.
The development comes after hours of talks between the House leadership and several co-sponsors who said they wanted to withhold support to draw attention to other issues, including education funding and unrelated family law bills.  
According to the Sun, Del. Jill Carter (D-Baltimore) and Del. Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore) staged walkouts on Tuesday, saying they would not vote on the marriage bill until other issues, "including a child custody bill and education funding, gain traction in the General Assembly this year." The Sun adds that Chairman Joseph F. Vallario will make a decision regarding the bill on Wednesday, March 2.]


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