Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley met local residents, legislatures and families Thursday, March 1, at the State House in Annapolis to make the “Old Line State” the eighth in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage.
“If there is a thread that unites all of our work here together,” said O’Malley before the signing, “it is the thread of human dignity, the dignity of work, the dignity of a job, the dignity of every child’s home, the dignity of every individual, the dignity of a free people who, at the end of the day, all want the same thing for our children.”
Senate President Thomas V. Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) sat at the table with O’Malley.
“And the bill is signed,” said O’Malley with a smile, which was followed by an ignited uproar of cheers from the crowd at Annapolis.
After a year-long battle against opposing legislatures, the Civil Marriage Protection Act of 2012– that would allow couples of the same-sex to be recognized as married under the law– was passed first through the House of Delegates with a 72-67 vote, which passed with only one more vote than the required 71. Roughly a week later, the state Senate voted 25-22 and passed the bill to O’Malley, who has stood firm in his fight for same-sex marriage.
O’Malley, who is a Catholic, once preferred civil unions over marriage for same-sex couples. However, he has fought for legalized marriages for gay couples strongly since the bill first surfaced last year.
With the bill signed, same-sex marriage in Maryland could become legal starting on January 1, 2013.
The road to legalization is not over, however.
Opponents, including Delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. (D-Baltimore County) and a number of local black religious leaders, are speaking out and campaigning against the law becoming officially legal and hoping that with enough signatures, the decision will become one of the people.
An online petition drive has been set up by opponents, with the help and support of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, to gather the required signatures.
In order for Marylanders to decide on whether or not to legalize gay marriage by voting on the November ballot, there must be at least NUMBER signatures on the circulating petition against the bill.
According to a poll done by the Washington Post in January, about 50 percent of Marylanders support marriage for same-sex couples while 44 percent are opposed to it.