ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)-- Same-sex couples are one step closer to being able to legally marry in Maryland. The Civil Marriage Protection Act narrowly passes in the House of Delegates.
Meghan McCorkell was in Annapolis for the key moment.
Supporters got 72 votes. They needed 71 votes to pass the bill. But they weren't sure what was going to happen until the very last moment.
An historic moment in the House of Delegates. By a narrow margin, the bill to legalize same-sex marriage passes.
"This is the right thing to do and I'm convinced in my heart that we're doing the right thing," Del. Michael Busch, Speaker of the House, said.
It is a big win for Gov. Martin O'Malley who sponsored the bill and tirelessly fought for its passage.
"Our leaders we elect are moving us forward with care for one another, with love for one another, with understanding and respect for one another. That's what one Maryland is," he said.
Emotions were overflowing for some openly gay delegates.
"It's been an emotional, amazing experience, and I look forward to the bill passing the Senate now," Del. Luke Clippinger, D-Baltimore City, said.
"The gay and lesbian communities can look at this vote and say, 'Finally, finally!'" Del. Maggie McIntosh, D-Baltimore City, said.
Opponents put up a fight until the end, nearly dominating the debate before the vote.
"Same-sex marriage is wrong," Del. Emmett Burns, D-Baltimore County, said.
"I think if people would just vote their conscience, just vote up or down, I think it actually wouldn't have passed," Del. Michael Hough, R-Frederick and Washington Counties, said.
The vote was certainly a nail-biter. Supporters say they didn't know if they had the votes until the very end.
"When the last woman got up to speak today, that's when the tears started for many of us," Del. Anne Kaiser, D-Montgomery County, said.
That last speaker-- the 72nd vote-- was cast by Del. Tiffany Alston who helped kill the same-sex marriage bill last year. Her support was enough for a very different outcome this year.
The same-sex marriage bill will now go to the Senate where a similar bill passed last year.
Opponents of same-sex marriage are vowing to petition the measure to referendum, putting it before the voters in November.
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