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The Maryland Senate just passed a marriage equality bill, 25-22, putting the Chesapeake Bay State en route to becoming the seventh in the nation (plus the District of Columbia) to allow same-sex couples the right to marry.
Maryland is the third state in as many weeks where both houses of its legislature have approved marriage equality bills. However, unlike in New Jersey (where Governor Chris Christie vetoed the bill), Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has vowed to sign the bill into law.
O’Malley and equality activists will now be in a similar position to Washington State, whose Governor Chris Gregoire signed gay marriage legislation into law two weeks ago. Opponents there have vowed to take the issue straight to the voters and will keep any weddings from happening before November election.
Similarly, according to Chris Geidner at MetroWeekly, in Maryland, “Opponents have vowed to collect the more than 55,000 signatures needed for a referendum seeking to overturn the law, which would be placed on the 2012 ballot.”
It’s still unclear whether Washington State, Maryland, or some other state might become lucky number seven to give gay couples a shot at the seven year itch as early as 2019.
Still, that three state legislatures from coast-to-coast approved a same-sex marriage bill in a presidential election year shows a major shift from 2008.
New York State also approved same-sex marriage via the legislature, but our constitution does not allow for direct referendums by voters that can bypass it. (Not that anything like that would pass here; by the time Governor Cuomo signed the bill, marriage equality enjoyed a comfortable margin of support by residents of the Empire State.)