The effort to legalise gay marriage in the US state of Maryland has died for this year.

Supporters of a marriage equality bill could not find enough votes for the measure to pass in the House.

It needed 71 votes to pass but was returned to the House Judiciary Committee last Friday when it became clear it did not have enough support to pass.

The bill has already passed the Senate and governor Martin O’Malley said he would sign it.

Delegate Anne R Kaiser, a Democrat, said that supporters were short of just one or two votes for the measure to succeed.

Ms Kaiser, who is a lesbian, said: “There’s always hope and I expect this to happen and I really haven’t met anyone who doesn’t expect this will be the law of the land in the entire country within the next couple decades; we just hope to be one of the first.”

But she added: “I really can’t explain people’s motivations. Many people who promised us their votes changed their minds.”

Supporters will try to get the bill passed next year.