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Same-sex marriage opinion was politics unusual in Maryland

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler's opinion likely sets up a showdown in the state's courts.
Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler's opinion likely sets up a showdown in the state's courts. (Alfredo Duarte Pereira/el Tiempo Latino)
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That bill has 10 co-sponsors: five Republicans and five Democrats. Three -- including Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr. (D-Baltimore County), the lead sponsor -- represent fairly conservative districts. The other two -- Sens. Anthony C. Muse (D) and Douglas J.J. Peters (D) -- hail from Prince George's.

The Democratic co-sponsors underscore the diversity of views within the party in the all-important Senate. Liberal legislation can pass the House but often dies there. Democrats dominate the chamber, holding 33 of 47 seats, but there is little consensus on social issues.

In recent years, conservative Democrats have sided with Republicans on several other divisive issues, including stem-cell research.

Maryland was one of the first states to approve funding for stem-cell research, but it remains one of the last sticking points each year in the budget.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said he wasn't sure how much debate Stone's measure would get, saying he considered the House as having already dealt with it. Miller said bills to pass same-sex marriage also haven't gone anywhere in the Senate because "it would be very difficult to get past a filibuster."

Still, Miller, who on many occasions has tried to curtail debate on social issues since he began presiding over the Senate in 1987, said his members' views on the latest hot-button social issue, same-sex marriage, are just one slice of being a Maryland Democrat.

"We're not going to tolerate a litmus test for people who belong to the Democratic Party," he said.

Jennifer Kali, 31, recently gave birth to a daughter and plans to travel with her partner, Karen, from their Silver Spring home to get married in the District next week. Maryland already gives same-sex couples many rights, "but this could be huge," Kali said, referring to Maryland potentially recognizing her marriage.

"The fact that we're even talking about it," Kali said, "is a big deal."

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