Some churches and members of clergy have spoken out against the bill, saying it threatens religious freedoms and violates their tradition of defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
"The enormous public outcry that this legislation has generated voiced by Marylanders that span political, racial, social and religious backgrounds demonstrates a clear need to take this issue to a vote of the people," Maryland Catholic Conference spokeswoman Kathy Dempsey said in a statement. "Every time this issue has been brought to a statewide vote, the people have upheld traditional marriage."
Leaders at the Human Rights Campaign, a group that joined a coalition of organizations to advocate for the bill, said they expect opponents will gather the required number of signatures.
Senator Allan Kittleman, the only senate Republican to vote in favuor of the legislation, said he was proud of his decision and not concerned about the political consequences.
"You don't worry about politics when you're dealing with the civil rights issue of your generation," said Kittleman, R-Howard, he son of the late Senator Robert Kittleman, who was known for civil rights advocacy.
Gay marriage remains on hold in California after opponents petitioned a federal appeals court on Tuesday to review a split decision by three of its judges that struck down a voter-approved measure that limited marriage to a man and woman.
Intellpuke: You can read this Associated Press article, filed from Annapolis, Maryland, in context here: www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/feb/24/gay-marriage-maryland-legal