Gay marriage bill gains support in Maryland

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A bill to give gay and straight couples equal marriage rights has been introduced in Maryland’s House of Delegates.

Fifty-eight delegates have signed on as co-sponsors and the bill will need 71 votes to pass.

It was introduced in the Senate last week with 18 co-sponsors and needs 24 votes to pass in that chamber.

Democratic governor Martin O’Malley is in support of the measure and a recent poll of Maryland voters found a slim majority in favour.

If the bill becomes law, Maryland will be the sixth US state to offer marriage equality.

Reports say there are no Republicans listed as sponsors in either house.

The Baltimore Sun reports that Senator Allan Kittleman, a Howard County Republican, has said he will introduce a civil unions proposal this session.

Last week, gay group Equality Maryland warned against legalising civil unions instead of marriage, saying the partnerships were not adequate and not widely recognised.