State of Maryland is poised to abolish the death penalty after its lawmakers voted 82 to 56 in favor of the move.
The measure now needs to be signed by Governor Martin O’Malley to become law.
Correspondents say it will be a formality as the Democratic Martin O’Malley has campaigned for five years to have the death penalty repealed.
Once signed into law, Maryland will become the 18th US state to abolish executions.
“Evidence shows that the death penalty is not a deterrent, it cannot be administered without racial bias and it costs three times as much as life in prison without parole,” Governor Martin O’Malley said in a statement.
“What’s more, there is no way to reverse a mistake if an innocent person is put to death.”
Opponents of the bill insisted capital punishment was a necessary tool to punish those who commit the most serious crimes.
State of Maryland is poised to abolish the death penalty after its lawmakers voted 82 to 56 in favor of the move
Maryland has had the death penalty since 1638 when the territory was a British colony.However, the state has neither sentenced anyone to death nor executed a prisoner since 2005.
The vote took place in the Maryland House of Delegates in the state capital, Annapolis. Eighty Democrats and two Republicans voted for the bill, which needed 71 votes to pass. Eighteen Democrats joined 38 Republicans to vote against it.
Connecticut became the 17th state to repeal the death penalty last year, meaning more than a third of the 50 states have now renounced executions.
Maryland gay marriage bill has been approved in the state Senate, less than a week after it passed the state House.
The bill, which will become law when signed by Governor Martin O’Malley, who sponsored it, will make Maryland the 8th US state to permit gay marriage.
But opponents have vowed to challenge the measure by putting it on the state ballot in November’s election.
Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed such a bill last week.
Martin O’Malley has said he will sign the Maryland law, which passed in the Senate 25-22.
“This issue has taken a lot of energy, as well it should, and I’m very proud of the House of Delegates and also the Senate for resolving this issue on the side of human dignity, and I look forward to signing the bill,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said.
Maryland gay marriage bill has been approved in the state Senate, less than a week after it passed the state House
Although Maryland has one of the largest Democratic majorities in any state legislature, the measure encountered resistance from African-American Catholic and evangelical lawmakers.
Some religious groups have said they will push for a referendum on the issue in November, in an effort to repeal it.
“The enormous public outcry that this legislation has generated – voiced by Marylanders that span political, racial, social and religious backgrounds – demonstrates a clear need to take this issue to a vote of the people,” said Kathy Dempsey, spokeswoman for the Maryland Catholic Conference.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign, which advocated for the bill said: “Along with coalition partners, we look forward to educating and engaging voters about what this bill does. It strengthens all Maryland families and protects religious liberty.”
The organization added that they expect opponents of the measure will be able to secure the required number of signatures to get the issue onto November’s ballot.
Maryland would join Iowa, New York, Washington, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia, which have already legalized same-sex marriage.