At least 140 witnesses and many more spectators attended a marriage equality bill hearing that lasted into the evening Wednesday in the Maryland senate judicial proceedings committee.
The committee is expected to approve the bill and send it to the full senate for a vote before the end of the month. The measure needs 24 votes to pass the Democratic-controlled chamber and 29 votes to stop an anticipated filibuster.
According to The Washington Post, senate president Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. put the bill’s chances of passing his chamber at 60 to 70% and said a vote could come next week.
“If the bill clears the Senate, then the House of Delegates, typically the more liberal chamber on social issues, would take up the issue, deciding whether Maryland should join the District and five states that allow same-sex marriage,” reports the Post.
On Tuesday, testimony was evenly divided among witnesses for and against the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act including many speakers with a religious perspective, according to the Washington Blade. Among the witnesses for the opposition was Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage, which is tied to the state’s powerful Catholic lobby.
Out elected officials including Sen. Richard Madaleno testified in support of the bill, as did Sen. Allan Kittleman, the lone Republican senator to support the measure. The hearing lasted for more than seven hours.