Maryland wasted no time sending the marriage equality bill through the Senate. After two hours of discussion, lawmakers cast a 25-22 vote Thursday, moving one step closer to becoming the eighth state to legalize same-sex marriage.


After passing the House of Delegates last Friday, it now moves to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s desk, where he has promised to sign it into law.

O’Malley, who made the legislation one of his priorities this year, praised the vote in a statement that said his state “will now be able to protect individual civil marriage rights and religious freedom equally.”

“All children deserve the opportunity to live in a loving, caring, committed, and stable home, protected equally under the law,” said the governor. “The common thread running through our efforts together in Maryland is the thread of human dignity; the dignity of work, the dignity of faith, the dignity of family, the dignity of every individual.”

Opponents of the bill have vowed to push for a referendum. According to Reuters, nearly 56,000 signatures would be needed to put the measure on the ballot this November, one third of which would have to be submitted by May 31 and the remainder by June 30.