Hundreds of supporters are at the state house on Thursday, to celebrate Governor Martin O'Malley's signing of a bill that legalizes same-sex marriage in the state. The legislation, which passed by a 25-22 margin in the state senate last week, makes Maryland the eighth state, including the District of Columbia, to recognize the rights of same-sex couples.
"If there is a thread that unites the story of our people, it is the thread of human dignity," said O'Malley, in a statement before signing the bill.
While today is unquestionably a victory for gay rights advocates, the wedding bells won't be ringing quite yet. Included in the legislation is a provision that same-sex marriages cannot be performed until January 2013.
Opponents of the bill have stated their intention to bring the bill to a referendum in the state. That will require assembling 56,000 signatures from state residents, after which the measure can be put on the ballot in November. Organizers expect to collect nearly double that number, in order to ensure that enough are validated by the state elections board.