Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed a bill this week that will legalize gay marriage on January 1st if it survives challenges pledged by those who want to repeal the legislation and let voters decide its fate with a referendum in November.
Thursday evening, however, marriage equality supporters celebrated in the hallways of the Maryland State Senate after Governor O’Malley spoke this historic words:
“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 found for the greater respect of the equal rights of all, for the human dignity of all.”
Despite challenges that still lie ahead from opponents who want the civil rights decision to be made by voters through a referendum in November, supporters took some time on Thursday to celebrate their victory for marriage equality.
O’Malley, a Democrat, then presented gay legislators with the same pens he used to make the same sex marriage legislation a law.
The bill narrowly passed the Maryland Legislature on February 17th and squeezed through the Senate by a slim margin about a week later. New Jersey’s State Senate and Legislature also passed a bill to legalize gay marriage in the Garden State earlier this month; however their Republican governor vetoed the legislation when it came across his desk. Governor Chris Christie believes Jersey voters should also be the ones to decide whether marriage equality is a civil right or not. Governor Chris Gregoire signed a similar law legalizing same-sex marriage Washington State in early February, and opponents there also plan to challenge that measure at the ballot box in November.