Same-sex marriage could get early vote in Md. Senate

Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. signaled this week that he wants his chamber to act quickly on a same-sex marriage bill, even as its fate in the House of Delegates remains unclear.


Miller (D-Calvert) said in multiple press interviews that he intends to take the legislation up early in the 90-day session, and that he expects the bill to clear the Senate with the same number of votes as last year.

Last year, a bill passed the Senate 25 to 21, only to fall short in the House, which traditionally had been the more liberal chamber on social policy.

“There will be 25 votes again in favor of the bill, so his desire and mine is to move as quickly as possible,” said Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery), an openly gay lawmaker and leading same-sex marriage advocate.

Traditionally in Annapolis, when a bill passes one chamber but not the other, the chamber in which the bill passed will not act the following year unless the bill first clears the other chamber.

That way, lawmakers do not waste time on legislation that has no chance of passing both the House and Senate.

In this case, however, Miller has said he does not want to risk tying up the Senate floor late in the 90-day session with a filibuster over same-sex marriage. Lawmakers have a particularly busy agenda this year, including many other issues that are not likely to be resolved until late in the session.

Miller is personally opposed to same-sex marriage — which he characterized in a radio interview Wednesday as “an attack on traditional families” — but has said the majority view should prevail.

“I don’t want to sound like one of the Republican candidates for president, but I am what I am,” Miller told public radio host Marc Steiner on Wednesday. “I’m a traditionalist.”

House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) characterized the measure as “a civil rights issue” during the same broadcast Wednesday, but offered no assurances that the bill would pass his chamber this session, despite his support and that of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

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