Marriage equality reaches Maryland – sort of


Just three weeks after the state of Washington became the seventh state to approve marriage equality, Maryland became the eighth yesterday. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) held a well-attended signing ceremony in Annapolis, clearing the way for same-sex marriages in the state.

But as Tricia noted earlier, it’s best not to “buy the wedding cake” just yet.

The catch, in this case, is that Maryland’s law doesn’t take effect until January – 10 months from now – and between now and then, opponents of marriage equality will very likely force a ballot referendum on the issue, giving voters a chance to undo what O’Malley and state lawmakers have already done.

With polls showing voters almost equally divided on same-sex marriage, which Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law Thursday evening, Maryland could become the first state to confirm gay nuptials by a popular vote, making it a pioneer alongside Massachusetts, the first state in which a legislature legalized same-sex marriage. […]

Some black pastors have lobbied in support of the measure. But last week, ministers of several African American mega-churches in Prince George’s County, as well as conservative and Catholic groups, vowed to help repeal the measure.

On Wednesday, two black Democratic lawmakers from Baltimore and the Maryland Marriage Alliance, a religious group aligned with national anti-gay marriage activists, joined forces with Maryland Republicans to launch a signature-gathering drive to place the measure on the November ballot.

There hasn’t been any polling on this yet – the legislation was only signed yesterday, and opponents have not yet collected the necessary signatures – but most observers in Maryland seem to agree the statewide vote on marriage equality is likely to be close.

Yesterday represented another breakthrough, but it did not represent the final hurdle.

Marriage equality reaches Maryland -- sort of