MadalenoThe Maryland Senate has passed a bill granting marriage rights to same-sex couples, legislation which Gov. Martin O’Malley lobbied for and intends to sign.  The new law will not go into effect until January 2013, after opponents have had an opportunity to reverse it through a statewide ballot question.

Among those fighting for the measure was Sen. Richard Madaleno, the chamber’s only openly gay member and Maryland’s first openly gay state lawmaker, who gave an impassioned speech about his family – his partner and their two children – and the importance of marriage to them.  ”We are going to make history, because we are going to take another important step toward embracing every family in Maryland,” Madaleno said.

“We are enormously proud of Sen. Madaleno for his years of advocacy for LGBT Marylanders.  This is a huge victory for him and for his openly gay and lesbian colleagues in the House, and a dramatic step forward for Maryland and its people,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund.  ”We also congratulate Equality Maryland, the Marylanders for Marriage Equality coalition and Gov. Martin O’Malley, whose lobbying and strategizing was so crucial to this victory.”

[Editor's note:  Send your congratulations to Sen. Madaleno via Twitter at @RichMadaleno]