Gay marriage bill up for Senate debate Thursday

The Maryland Senate voted for the 2nd straight year to pass same-sex marriage legislation.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP/ABC7) - Same-sex marriage in Maryland is one step closer to realization Thursday morning after the state Senate voted to pass the legislation.

The Senate will reconvene at 4 p.m. to debate and vote on final passage of civil marriage protection act.

Senate approval came less than a week after the Maryland House of Delegates approved the bill by a narrow 71-67 vote, which prompted supporters of the bill within the chamber to erupt in approval and joy.

"That's what One Maryland's about," Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said on the House floor. "It's about the dignity of every individual."

In 2011, the Senate passed a similar measure by 25 to 21.

Republican leaders had previously asked that discussion of the bill and potential amendments be postponed until Thursday.

Sen. President Thomas V. Mike Miller previously said the Senate could gather into the evening that day to consider the bill, which barely passed the House of Delegates last week.

Opponents have offered an amendment to change the bill's effective date and say they have asked Attorney General Doug Gansler for an opinion on the constitutionality of amendments added to the House version of the bill.

Miller said he did not believe any of votes have changed in his chamber.