Update, 6:45 p.m.: After considering one amendment, the House has gone into recess until 12:30 p.m. Friday. A delegate who supports the bill is scheduled to have surgery on Friday, complicating the timing of the measure’s consideration.
Update, 6:15 p.m.: The same-sex marriage debate is under way on the floor of the Maryland House of Delegates.
Update, 6 p.m.: Delegates are starting to arrive for the same-sex marriage debate, which was pushed back from 5:30 to 6 p.m. There is no indication yet how soon the session might actually start.
Update, 4:15 p.m.: As lobbying from both sides of the same-sex marriage debate continued Thursday afternoon, the Maryland Marriage Alliance sent an open letter to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) taking issue with the legislative process.
The group, which is comprised of religious leaders, questioned in particular this week’s joint vote by two committees that has allowed O’Malley’s bill to come to the floor of the House of Delegates.
“We recommend that you take the high road of political integrity and ethics, and not allow the will of Maryland’s people to be thwarted by manipulating the legislative process,” the group said.
The letter was presented at a news conference attended by more than 40 ministers and other supporters of the alliance.
House leaders pushed off a scheduled debate during their 10 a.m. session, saying they did not want to take up a divisive issue during a morning when the chamber was packed with veterans for a “Tribute to Fallen Heroes” ceremony.
A vote on the bill, sponsored by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), could come as early as Friday.
House Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell (R) cautioned reporters Thursday not to make too much of reports that two Republican members were planning to support the governor’s bill.
O’Donnell, who opposed the legislation, noted that a sizable number of Democrats are opposed, and said his side is working to sway more of them.
“I think the true bipartisanship is in the opposition,” O’Donnell said.
Supporters continued to express cautious optimism that they would prevail, but said that O’Malley and House leaders are continuing to talk to wavering delegates.