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Maryland gay marriage bill dies with no final vote

By TOM LoBIANCO, Associated Press

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The effort to legalize gay marriage in Maryland died for the year Friday after supporters said they could not find enough votes to pass the measure in the House.

House leaders avoided a final vote on the bill and returned it to the House Judiciary Committee after it became apparent they did not have the 71 votes needed for approval. The bill to make Maryland the sixth state to allow gay marriage had already passed the Senate, and the governor said he would have signed it.

House Speaker Michael Busch said they would try again next year.

"The vote would have been very close, make no mistake about it," said Busch, D-Anne Arundel.

Although Democrats have solid control over both chambers of the General Assembly and the governor's office, extending full marriage rights to same sex couples did not appear possible before this year.

The Senate narrowly approved the measure two weeks ago, voting 25-21 send the bill to the House after adding language to keep religious groups from being forced to serve gay weddings.

While Democrats hold an overwhelming 98 seats in the 141-seat House of Delegates, the pickup of six seats by Republicans in the last election helped erode support, said House Environmental Matters Chairwoman Maggie McIntosh, one of the chamber's seven openly gay members.

"If in the general election we had retained all of the Democratic seats I think we would be declaring victory today," a tearful McIntosh said.

The move Friday ends weeks of intensely personal debates - and lobbying - on the measure.

"I would have hoped that we could have resolved this issue and then let the people decide," said Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, after the House killed the measure . "I think an issue like this was bound to go before the people in a referendum, and I would have hoped that we would have been able to have accomplished that today."

Opponents said the decision Friday was a victory for defining marriage as being between one man and one woman.

"We took a position to support the existing definition as being between one man and woman and that prevailed," said House Minority Leader Anthony O'Donnell, R-Calvert. "I think it was the appropriate action."

Associated Press writer Brian Witte in Annapolis contributed to this report.

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I am certain those anti-gay bigots are rejoicing over their victory for discriminating AND denying a group of tax paying citizens the right to marry and to benefit from the incentives that come along with marriage. That is INIQUITOUS and I am certain God is displeased with their sodomy i.e. selfishness and wickedness toward others. Nevertheless, the bible did tell us that in the latter days some will be hindered from getting married. Therefore, prophecy is being fulfilled here AND it testifies that the bible is indeed true. Anyhow, I hope my gay brothers and sisters will continue the good fight!

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