Under a new bill in Maryland sponsored by out state Sen. Richard Madaleno Jr., gay and lesbian couples would gain equal marriage rights, although religious organizations that object to such unions would not be required to officiate at their ceremonies. "Just 45 minutes ago I was in the Senate chamber, one of 47 equals with all of the rights and privileges I share with my colleagues as an equal member of the state Senate," Madaleno said at a news conference for the bill. "In another 45 minutes, I will be before the Senate Judicial Proceedings committee as a second-class citizen in the state of Maryland, one of thousands of gay and lesbian people who is unable to marry."

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