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Md. Senate Passes Same-Sex Marriage Bill

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- A bill to allow same-sex couples to marry in Maryland passes first in the House and now in the Senate. The governor is expected to sign it, but that may not be the end of the story.

Meghan McCorkell has more on this big step for the Civil Marriage Protection Act.

It was a close vote-- 25 in favor, 22 against. But Thursday was a big win for supporters of same-sex marriage.

"House Bill 438 has received a constitutional vote."

With that, the bill to legalize same-sex marriage goes to the governor's desk.

"This has been a difficult issue, but as one Maryland we came together around the principle of human dignity and we're moving forward," Gov. Martin O'Malley said.

For Sen. Richard Madaleno-- the only openly gay senator-- this vote is personal.

"I think it's a remarkable day in the state of Maryland and I'm just so proud to have been a part of it," Madaleno, D-Montgomery County, said.

Though torn, Senate President Mike Miller voted against the bill.

"This is history. Am I on the wrong side of history as a historian? There's no doubt about it," Miller, a Democrat, said.

Many opponents are confident they'll be able to get same-sex marriage on the ballot in November.

"I think we'll move on to the referendum process," Sen. E.J. Pipkin, R-District 36 and the Senate Minority Leader, said. "I think that's ultimately where this will be decided."

Many same-sex couples filled the Senate gallery to witness the historic vote.

"This day will change our lives forever," Gita Deane, a supporter of same-sex marriage, said. "We'll be able to tell our children about this day. We'll be sharing this with our friends and family. It's kind of unbelievable and hard to wrap my head around it."

The House passed the bill last week. Thursday night, several delegates watched as the same happened in the Senate.

"It is wonderful to know that Marylanders believe that my right should be equal," Del. Luke Clippinger, D-Baltimore City, said.

Now, both sides say they're ready for a new fight in November.

The governor plans to sign the Civil Marriage Protection Act within a week. The legislation effective date is January 2013.

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