Equality Maryland announced today its anticipated timeline for moving two key pieces of LGBT rights legislation in the coming months, including a marriage equality bill.
The marriage bill is up first and has already been introduced in the Senate; it will be introduced in the House on Jan. 25. Sources said a Senate hearing will likely be held either Tuesday, Feb. 1 or Thursday, Feb. 3. Then, observers expect a three-day fight on the Senate floor during the week of Feb. 7, culminating with a cloture vote, which requires 29 votes. Twenty-four votes are needed to pass the Senate bill; there are 18 co-sponsors.
Senate leadership reportedly wants to wrap debate and voting on the marriage bill before budget legislation is considered on Feb. 21. The measure would then move to the House for consideration in March, where it is widely expected to pass. Final passage is expected in early April.
Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Mont. Co.) expressed confidence in the outcome of the vote during a call with reporters Friday. “Everybody knows it’s going to happen this term,” he said.
The other bill, a measure barring job discrimination based on gender identity and expression, is expected to be introduced first in the House during the week of Jan. 24 and see a hearing in the House Government & Operations Committee in mid-February.
Equality Maryland Executive Director Morgan Meneses-Sheets said her field staff has grown from two to 12 since last year and confirmed that the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and Freedom to Marry have sent staff to support the effort to pass the bills.
She noted that the National Organization for Marriage is now active in the state in opposing the marriage equality bill. NOM hasn’t yet aired TV ads opposing marriage equality, but has begun an online and telephone campaign against the bill. NOM has scheduled a lobby day event for Feb. 14, the same day as Equality Maryland’s own lobbying event.