Maryland’s state senate approved a bill last night to give equal marriage rights to gay couples.

The bill passed narrowly in a 25-22 vote and has already been approved by the House of Delegates.

Democratic Governor O’Malley will sign the bill into law, having introduced it to the state legislature in late January.

A similar equal marriage bill in New Jersey was approved by both the Senate and the Assembly but vetoed by Governor Christie who said the matter should be put to a public vote.

The Governor of Washington state signed its equal marriage bill into law earlier this month describing it as one of her “proudest moments” as a legislator.

Washington became the seventh state to perform gay marriage, along with the District of Columbia. Maryland will be the eighth of the fifty states to allow equal marriage rights.

Stuart Gaffney, Media Director for Marriage Equality USA said of the Maryland vote: “Since Governor O’Malley has championed this bill and already said he will sign the bill into law, today’s historic vote means marriage equality in Maryland!

“We are encouraged by reports that former Vice President Dick Cheney made calls to lobby Maryland legislators to support the bill. Supporting his lesbian daughter Mary illustrates the true meaning of family values across party lines.

“The Maryland legislature now joins Washington State and New Jersey in passing marriage equality bills in just the last few weeks. Loving, committed couples stand to benefit from these bills from coast to coast.”

Senator Allan Kittleman was the only Republican state senator to vote in favour of the law, with all other votes coming from the Democrats.

The news will not be welcomed by everyone, particularly 14-year-old Sarah Crank who appeared before a legislative committee and asked them to maintain the ban on gay marriages as a birthday present to her.

She told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee: “I really feel bad for the kids who have two parents of the same gender. Even though some kids feel like it’s fine, they have no idea what kind of wonderful experiences they miss out on.

“I don’t want any more kids to get confused about what’s right and OK.

“I really don’t want to grow up in a world where marriage isn’t such a special thing any more. It’s rather scary to think that when I grow up the legislator or the court can change the definition of any word they want.”

Senators thanked the teenager for her speech but ultimately voted in favour of equal rights last night.