The House of Delegates Thursday night delayed a vote on same-sex marriage legislation after adopting an amendment that would delay the ceremonies until January 2013.
"That way, there can be no games played should this issue be petitioned to referendum," said Del. Wade Kach, a Republican who represents northern Baltimore County.
Kach said this is meant to prevent a situation, such as what happened in California, where civil marriages went into effect and marriages were performed, but the law was defeated in a referendum.
The amendment, offered by Kach, was adopted by a simple voice vote.
The adoption of the amendment was unusual given that the same amendment was killed in committee on Tuesday night.
Kach, who had previously opposed the bill, switched his vote Wednesday. His vote was said to be contingent on approval of the amendment, according to an Associated Press report.
Kach declined to talk to Patch, but a spokesman said that the delegate had made no such agreement.
"He's voting for the gay marriage bill," said Joe Gutberlet, a Kach spokesman. "He's made up his mind and there's no going back. It's a strong vote."
Kach is one of two Baltimore County delegates to switch positions on the bill in the last 24 hours. Del. John Olszewski Jr., a Dundalk Democrat, announced Thursday he too would support the bill.
"It is not the role of the State to tell my church—or any other faith community—what its beliefs can and cannot be," Olszewski wrote in a statement. "To that end, I have preferred the implementation of civil unions, but to go another day—or let alone another year, or perhaps longer—denying equal rights to all Marylanders would be a disgrace."
The change of heart by the two delegates was welcome news to supporters who are looking to lock up delegates in what is expected to be a very close vote.
Last year the same bill was sent back to committee after supporters fell a few votes short of the 71 needed for passage.
Supporters did apparently lose at least one vote but not because of a change in position.
Del. Veronica Turner, a Prince George's County Democrat and supporter of the same-sex marriage bill, will apparently miss the vote because of a medical procedure that will be performed Friday.
Opponents say the delays, the third in two days, signal that supporters of same-sex marriage do not have the votes again.
"If they had the votes they would have shot down the amendments tonight and passed the bill," said House Minority Leader Del. Anthony O'Donnell.
"There's a large, bi-partisan opposition to this bill, and it's very solid," said O'Donnell.
The House is expected to take up debate on amendments to the bill Friday at 12:30 p.m. A preliminary vote could be taken some time soon after with a final vote coming possibly as early as Monday night.