A Maryland lawmaker says the "hate and venom" of gay marriage opponents has led him to change his vote to support the state's same-sex marriage bill.
Democratic State Sen. James Brochin announced Thursday that he intends to vote for the same-sex marriage bill, bringing the bill one step closer to Senate passage.
"For me, the transition to supporting marriage has not been an easy one, but the uncertainty, fear, and second-class status that gays and lesbians have to put up with is far worse and clearly must come to an end," Brochin said in a statement.
Brochin said he previously supported civil unions for homosexual couples. Gay marriage was "a stumbling block" for him, he said. However, the tone of same-sex marriage opponents' testimonies heard by the Judicial Proceedings Committee earlier this week changed his mind.
"What I witnessed from the opponents of the bill was appalling," he said. "Witness after witness demonized homosexuals, vilified the gay community, and described gays and lesbians as pedophiles."
Pro-family groups have advocated a distinction for traditional marriage because of its natural ability to create and nurture children.
"Marriage is the union of husband and wife for a reason: these are the only unions that can make new life and connect children in love to their mom and dad. SB 116 doesn't just add more people to marriage, it changes marriage," said Maggie Gallagher, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, in her Maryland testimony.
Leaders in social conservatism have urged supporters to make their points with civility.
In his book, Courage to Stand: An American Story, former Minnesota Governor and potential presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty urges conservatives trying to influence social policy to remain goodhearted, measured and loving.
Still, it is not surprising that Brochin has thrown his support behind same-sex marriage.
Brochin is one of 21 senators to show public support for the same-sex marriage bill. Of the state Senate, 18 members signed on to the bill as bill sponsors and co-sponsors. All the sponsors are Democrats.
Three additional senators have committed to vote for the bill including lone Republican Allan Kittleman. Kittleman stepped down as the Republican minority Senate leader in order to support the gay marriage bill. He has asserted that same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue.
Six senators remain undecided. All the undecided senators are Democrats. Three of those senators are from largely African-American districts.
The bill needs 24 votes to pass. The committee is expected to vote next week to send the bill to the floor.