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Gay Marriage Bill Sent Back To Committee

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The Maryland House of Delegates was expected to push the bill to a final vote Friday, but instead sent it back to committee.
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The Maryland House of Delegates was expected to push the bill to a final vote Friday, but instead sent it back to committee.

After delegates avoided a vote on the bill Friday and sent it back to committee, House Speaker Mike Busch said the issue will not be taken up again this year.

Supporters said they didn't think they had the 71 votes needed to pass the bill, and it was sent back to committee in a procedure that will allow them to continue with the legislation next year.

The bill seemed like it might pass, but ran into strong resistance from African-American lawmakers from Prince George's County, who cited religious opposition in their districts, and conservative Democrats.

The measure narrowly passed the Senate last month, and Gov. Martin O'Malley said he intended to sign it. The governor put out a statement shortly after the bill was killed, saying he had hoped to sign the bill this year, adding he remains committed to ensuring that all state residents receive equal rights.

The gay rights advocay organization Equality Maryland lobbied for the bill's passage. Morgan Meneses-Sheets is the group's executive director. She's they're disappointed by the decision, but they're not defeated.

"We can use this momentum to continue to build a foundation to come back next year and to win. We are more committed than ever. This is a minor setback," she says.

Meneses-Sheets says they consider it a victory that the same-sex legislation made it through the Maryland Senate and House Judiciary Committee this time around.

Had the bill been approved, Maryland would have been the sixth state in the country to legalize gay marriage.

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