On Thursday night, Alston met with O’Malley.
Later that evening, her amendments — and potential support of the bill — were among the topics at a strategy session in the governor’s lobbying office that stretched past midnight, according to participants. O’Malley was there for much of the meeting, which also included a few of his aides, Busch staffers and some Democrats pushing the bill.
Underscoring the uncertainty of the vote count, the meeting included discussion of a “Plan B” — trying to pass a civil unions bill instead.
Even as lawmakers adopted two of Alston’s amendments Friday afternoon, not all of her colleagues were confident she would vote for the bill, given her track record of a year ago.
But she did.
“I just felt like as a state it was time for us to allow the people to get involved in the issue,” Alston said Saturday, referring to a referendum.
In recent months, some same-sex marriage supporters grumbled that Busch did not insist that other Democrats in leadership positions vote for the bill. The 26 Democrats who voted against the legislation included three House committee chairmen.
One leadership team member who did switch sides was Del. Marvin E. Holmes Jr. (D-Prince George’s), chairman of the House Democratic caucus.
After a highly contentious meeting of Democrats on Thursday morning, Holmes said he asked O’Malley to speak to the group about a source of division: a recent speech in which O’Malley’s wife referred to some same-sex marriage opponents as “cowards.”
O’Malley appeared that afternoon. Holmes said he decided to support the bill after that but not because of that. He said because his district is evenly split on gay nuptials, he thought voting for it would allow the issue to be settled in a referendum.
Friday’s tally would have fallen short without at least one Republican vote as well. After weeks of outreach, O’Malley got two: Robert A. Costa of Anne Arundel County and A. Wade Kach of Baltimore County.
Kach told his colleagues that in January he had been certain he would vote against the bill. It wasn’t until a hearing a week before the vote that he changed his mind, after testimony from gay couples with children.
“As a pro-life Republican, I believe it’s my responsibility to make sure children are taken care of,” he said. “I left that hearing a changed person.”