Maryland House of Delegates passes gay marriage bill, 71-67

Gov. Martin O'Malley came to the House to join the celebration when the gay marriage bill passed on Friday evening.

11:15 p.m. Friday:

The Maryland House of Delegates erupted in approval and joy Friday evening when the votes were counted and the bill to legalize gay marriage was passed, 71-67. Some described the vote as the most important of their career.

Heather Mizeur of Takoma Park, one of seven openly gay delegates, shed tears.

For same-sex marriage supporters, it was a truly historic evening in Annapolis.

Once the votes were counted, the chambers erupted in approval and joy.

The celebrations continued with a surprise visit from Gov.Martin O'Malley, who has actively worked to get the bill passed.

"That's what One Maryland's about," O'Malley said. "It's about the dignity of every individual."

If the bill passes the Senate as expected, O'Malley says he'll sign it. Maryland would join seven states and the District in allowing gays to marry.

But opponents will likely launch a petition drive that will give voters the final say on the November ballot.

6:37 p.m.: ABC7's Ben Eisler reports that the the Maryland House of Delegates has just passed the bill that would legalize gay marriage, 71-67. The bill now goes to the Senate, which passed it in 2011.

Maryland gay marriage vote: House of Delegates set to make decision

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland delegates are scheduled to take a final vote to legalize gay marriage.

Members of the House of Delegates considered a handful of amendments Friday afternoon and will convene for a final voting session at 4:30 p.m.

Republicans speculated that proponents acquired the 71-vote majority required to pass the legislation.

An amendment from Delegate Tiffany Alston, a Prince George's Democrat who previously opposed to the bill, was accepted by the members, a move opponents suggested bought her vote.

The body also added an amendment Thursday evening, altering the effective date of the bill from October to January 2013.

Delegate Wade Kach, a Republican from Baltimore County, said earlier in that day that his support of the bill was contingent the acceptance of that amendment.