Maryland to Pass Gay Marriage Bill This Afternoon

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A hard fought measure to legalize same-sex marriage will officially be signed into law in Maryland today. The signing is set for 5 p.m. in the State House.

A marriage bill came within a whisker of passage in 2011, but was shelved in the House of Delegates at the last minute when leaders fell a few votes shy.

Securing those "few votes" this year took up much of the first 45 days of Maryland's General Assembly's legislative session, but it eventually got done.

Gov. Martin O'Malley will sign the bill into law today.


Though both the House and the Senate chambers are dominated by Democrats, same-sex marriage was not an easy sell for the Democratic governor.

Even with the governor's signature today, same sex couples won't get Maryland marriage certificates until the law goes into effect in January 2013.

There's also the threat of a vote to overrule the law. Fired-up opponents have pledged to collect 100,000 signatures opposing the bill by June 30.

That's about twice what they would need to trigger a state-wide referendum on the controversial topic, which would appear on the ballot in November.

Maryland joins Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa and Washington in permitting same sex marriage rights.

California's controversial Prop 8, which banned same sex marriage, was recently declared unconstitutional, but faces a protracted appeals process.

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