Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law HB 438, a bill legalizing marriage equality, in a 5 p.m. ceremony held at the State House in Annapolis Thursday evening.
Saying, “We are one Maryland,” he declared, “The bill is signed,” at 5:15 p.m.
O’Malley’s signature makes Maryland the eighth state and ninth jurisdiction to legalize same-sex marriage.
Marriage equality is also legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Washington state and the District of Columbia. The Washington law also faces a referendum effort.
Opponents, led by the Maryland Marriage Alliance, the chief organization pushing to repeal the marriage equality law, have vowed to collect more than the 55,736 signatures required to force a referendum on the law onto the 2012 ballot. They are expected to meet the necessary requirements for a referendum.
If upheld by voters via a referendum, the bill will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013.
Following O’Malley’s signing of the bill, several organizations that played prominent roles in the bill’s passage issued statements celebrating a major milestone for the state’s LGBT community.
“The Governor’s signature today puts Maryland on the road to fairness for all families,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the national LGBT organization Human Rights Campaign (HRC). “This victory was possible thanks to the hard work of so many on the ground in Maryland. Our congratulations go to Governor O’Malley and our legislative allies who were incredible leaders in this effort.”
(Read more at Metro Weekly)