Maryland’s House of Delegates, the same chamber that killed a gay marriage bill last year, just passed the new, improved 2012 version, 72-67, after two Republicans jumped ship and voted yea.

That the bill almost didn’t pass the House, even with the full weight of the Governor’s office behind it and with massive outreach to religious black legislators by the Human Rights Campaign, speaks volume about the contentiousness of this issue in one of the “bluest” states in the union.

The State Senate is expected to pass the bill with less nail-biting suspense. But, of course, it will likely end up as a referendum, leaving voters to decide whether Maryland will become the eighth state to legalize gay marriage. With that and the Dream Act on the ballot, I wouldn’t be surprised if Maryland earns a record voter turnout in November.

Now I know the bill has already been thoroughly revamped from the 2011 version, with plenty of clear-cut religious protections, and so on. But before the Senate votes, I would like to suggest one final amendment to the bill: that all wedding receptions must feature water chestnuts wrapped in bacon and that I need to be invited. Thank you.