Opponents of Maryland's new same-sex marriage law [SB241, PDF] have obtained enough signatures to challenge the legislation in a referendum, according to an unofficial count [PDF] posted on Maryland's State Board of Elections [official website]. The count suggests that the petition has gained over 70,000 signatures, which is well over the requirement [WP report] of about 55,000. The petition was organized by the Maryland Marriage Alliance [advocacy website], an advocacy group that opposes same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder]. The group reports that they turned in more than 120,000 signatures on May 29. The Board of Elections has not officially verified the signature count. Maryland joined the seven states that allow same-sex marriage [JURIST report] in March when Governor Martin O'Malley [official website] signed the Civil Marriage Protection Act.
Same-sex marriage continues to be a controversial issue in the US. An advocacy group in Washington presented more than 200,000 referendum signatures on Wednesday seeking to overturn [JURIST report] recently signed same-sex marriage legislation. In May 25 gay and lesbian couples filed two lawsuits against Illinois Governor Pat Quinn challenging the constitutionality of the state's same-sex marriage ban. In March, Maryland legalized same-sex marriage, joining Washington, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia [JURIST reports]. On the other hand, North Carolina voters in May approved [JURIST report] a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.