The Maryland House of Delegates [official website] on Friday passed a bill [HB 438 text] that would allow same-sex couples to legally marry within the state. The bill passed by a 72 to 67 vote and is set to move on to the Senate [WP report], where it must pass to receive the governor's approval. Those opposing same-sex marriage in Maryland are expected to put up strong resistance to the bill by holding petition drives that, if they receive enough support, could get the bill placed on the November ballot and give voters the final say. A similar bill was proposed last year in Maryland but failed to pass the House [JURIST report] after it was approved by the Senate. If approved by all parties, Maryland would become the eighth state, along with the District of Columbia, to allow same-sex marriage. Governor Martin O'Malley [official website], who praised the vote [statement text], has promised to sign the bill [WP report] once it passes the Senate.
Maryland is not the only state that has been trying to pass bill that would allows same-sex couples to marry. Earlier this week, Washington legalized same-sex marriage [JURIST report] after Governor Christine Gregoire on Monday signed legislation. New Jersey is also considering legalizing same-sex marriage soon, although it currently has a civil union system in place. In November, a lawsuit [JURIST report] was allowed to continue in New Jersey, which seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against the state civil union law as a contravention of both the Fourteenth Amendment and the New Jersey State Constitution. Same-sex marriage has been legalized in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia [JURIST reports].