- Associated Press - Thursday, February 24, 2011

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland senators debating whether to legalize gay marriage said on Thursday that their families are guiding their choices on the issue.

The state Senate is expected to give final approval to a bill to legalize gay marriage on Thursday. If approved by the House and signed by the governor, the bill would grant same-sex couples full marriage rights in Maryland.

The Senate’s only openly gay member, Sen. Richard Madaleno, Montgomery Democrat, told his colleagues that his partner — whom he married 10 years ago — is still a “legal stranger” to him in Maryland.

Sen. Joanne Benson, Prince George’s Democrat, recalled how her father used to marry couples in her home when she was growing up. She says her father taught her that marriage is only between a man and a woman.