The US state of Maryland’s House of Delegates began debate on a gay marriage bill today.

The bill, to give gay couples marriage equality, has already been passed by the Senate.

Its supporters hope it will pass the House without amendments, meaning it can swiftly go to governor Martin O’Malley, who has said he will sign it into law.

If the House adds amendments, the bill will have to return to the Senate for approval.

Associated Press reports that a preliminary voice vote, taken this morning, indicates it will pass.

Maryland’s House now has seven out gay delegates, after Peter Murphy, a Charles County Democrat, came out to the Washington Blade today.

“I have never denied [being gay],” he said, “I just presumed people knew.”

He said he was optimistic that the bill would pass.

The openly gay delegates have urged other politicians to pass the measure.

In a letter, they wrote: “Vote yes because you know it is the right thing to do. Vote yes because you want to stand on the right side of history. Vote yes because every family in Maryland needs the protections that marriage provides.”