January 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm EDT | by Kevin Naff
Marriage by April in Maryland?

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.

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

  • way to go Maryland! Congratulations will be in order when this marriage bill passes…anywhere where we can defeat NOM is a welcome place!

  • Kudos Maryland!!! Great news and keep up the good fight! NOM has no right to bully and impose their values the way it does, and harm our relationships, families, kids. There needs to be more states standing for marriage equality: I have hopes this will be the case soon.

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