ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- Gay marriage is all but legalized in Maryland with the legislature giving its final OK Thursday to the law that is awaiting the expected signature of the governor.
The state Senate voted 25-22 for the law. The vote comes less than a week after the House of Delegates barely passed the measure.
Maryland will become the eighth state to allow gay marriage when Gov. Martin O'Malley - who sponsored the bill - signs the legislation.
Opponents, though, have vowed to bring the measure to referendum in November. They will need to gather at least 55,726 valid signatures of Maryland voters to put it on the ballot and can begin collecting names now that the bill has passed both chambers.
Senators rejected some amendments to the legislation Thursday. Proponents warned that amending the bill could kill it because gathering enough support for altered legislation in the House would be difficult.
Last year senators passed a similar measure by 25-21, but the bill died in the House after delegates rescinded their initial support citing concerns that it could violate religious liberties of churches and business owners who do not support same-sex unions.