Maryland joined the seven states that allow same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] when Governor Martin O'Malley (D) [official website] signed the Civil Marriage Protection Act [SB241, PDF] on Thursday. With signing the bill the governor released [official press release] the following statement:
For a free and diverse people, ... for a people of many faiths, ... for a people committed to the principle of religious freedom, ... the way forward is always to be found through greater respect for the equal rights of all; for the human dignity of all. Religious freedom was the very reason for our State's founding. At the heart of religious freedom is the freedom of individual conscience. If there is a thread that unites the story of our people, it is the thread of human dignity; the dignity of work; the dignity of family; the dignity of every child's home; the dignity of every individual. We are One Maryland, and all of us, at the end of the day, want the same thing for our children: to live in a loving, stable, committed home protected equally under the law.Opponents of the bill are planning and expected to meet the state's low threshold for signature-gathering to petition to overturn the new measure on the upcoming November ballot.
The Maryland same-sex marriage law was passed more quickly than other states that have enacted similar laws. Maryland's Senate approved [JURIST report] the bill in a 25-22 vote last week after it was approved by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee [official website] the same week in a vote of 7-4 [JURIST report] and by the Maryland House of Delegates [official website] the week before in a vote of 72-67 [JURIST report]. Maryland became the eighth state that allows same-sex marriage along with Washington, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia [JURIST reports]. New Jersey is also considering legalizing same-sex marriage soon, although it currently has a civil union system in place.