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Md. House Committee Passes Marriage Bill

Md. House Committee Passes Marriage Bill

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UPDATE: Maryland's marriage equality bill has passed out of committee 12-10, sending the bill, which already has been approved by the state Senate, to the full House of Delegates, which could vote on the measure next week.

Gov. Martin O'Malley has said he would sign the measure if it passes.

According to Metro Weekly, "The vote came after several amendments were discussed on March 4, including one by Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington County) to allow grandmothers to marry their grandsons. That amendment was withdrawn."

Marriage equality advocates have been on pins and needles for the last few days. On Thursday, Sam Arora (pictured), the delegate who cosponsored Maryland's marriage equality bill and campaigned on a marriage equality platform, changed his tune and indicated he would be voting against the bill. After being blasted on Facebook and Twitter and by numerous prominent politicians, he now says he's back on board.

On Thursday he and Del. Jill Carter were no shows at a planned vote for marriage equality in the Maryland House.

Carter had pledged support for the bill but was out sick (previously she raised concerns about the legislation).

Arora, who had been wavering on his support for the bill, reportedly told bill sponsor Del. Kumar Barve on Thursday he was planning to vote against it, causing many to think the bill was dead. Supporters of Arora, who campaigned on a marriage equality platform, called for his resignation if he indeed voted against the bill.

On Friday, Arora released this statement: "I have heard from constituents, friends, and advocates from across the spectrum of views and have thought about the issue of same-sex marriage extensively. I understand their concern -- this is a very serious issue, and one that many people feel passionately about. As the vote drew nearer, I wrestled with this issue in a way I never had before, which led me to realize that I had some concerns about the bill. While I personally believe that Maryland should extend civil rights to same-sex couples through civil unions, I have come to the conclusion that this issue has such impact on the people of Maryland that they should have a direct say. I will vote to send the bill to the floor because it deserves an up-or-down vote. On the floor, I will vote to send the bill to the governor so that Marylanders can ultimately decide this issue at the polls. I think that is appropriate."

On Thursday, before Arora released his statement, Barve said he was shocked by all of Arora's wavering.

"I don't know what to think," Barve, who is the lead sponsor of the bill, told Metro Weekly Thursday night. "He told me that he was going to vote against it on the floor. I've been in the legislature for quite a while and nothing is a reality until you actually push the button. And these are hard issues. But he came to me and told me that he was having difficulty with the concept of it."

Check back for updates.

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