ANNAPOLIS - Republican Allen H. Kittleman is stepping down from his post as minority leader of the Maryland Senate because he says his views are too moderate for his party's caucus.

"It is more important for me to stay true to my principles than it is for me to be the minority leader," said Kittleman, who represents Howard County.

He stepped down on Tuesday, two weeks after he announced plans to introduce a bill allowing civil unions for both heterosexual and same-sex couples in Maryland. 

He said he made the decision to step down following a meeting of the 58-member GOP caucus. The caucus plans to elect a new leader on Friday.