ANNAPOLIS, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller says his chamber will vote on a bill to legalize gay marriage later Thursday.

Senators returned to the chamber to wrap up what Miller expects will be an “orderly” debate and take a vote.

Senator Ed Degrange (D-Anne Arundel County) proposed an amendment to the bill that would protect religious freedoms so that churches, synagogues and temples would not be liable for not performing same-sex marriages.

Debate over the amendment lasted over an hour according to All-News 99.1 WNEW’s Karen Adams.

Last year, the Senate passed a similar proposal 25-21 and Miller said the vote is not expected to change.

The legislation, which is expected to pass, would make Maryland the eighth state to legalize same-sex unions, when Gov. Martin O’Malley signs the bill.

The governor continued to be a strong advocate of the legislation in advance of the vote.

“We all want the same thing for our kids–for them to live in loving, committed & stable homes protected equally under the law,” Gov. O’Malley posted on Twitter.

Last week the House of Delegates passed the bill by a thin margin, courting just one more vote than necessary to pass the measure.

Opponents have vowed to bring it to voters with a referendum on the November ballot.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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