Friday, March 02, 2012

O'Malley Signs Maryland Marriage Equality Bill!

Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley signed Maryland's marriage equality bill into law on Thursday February 29th, making his state the 8th state in the country to currently have a same-sex marriage law on the books. However, since the bill will not go into effect until January 1, 2013, there will be no actual marriages in Maryland until a November 2012 referendum on the law is resolved.

Heterosexual supremacists have already announced that they intend to place the question on the ballot, and thus have until July 1, 2012 to collect 55,736 signatures and must also submit at least one third of that amount, 18,579 by June 1, 2012.

But February 29th was all about celebrating a long journey to have Maryland join the other states in the Union which have ended illegal gender discrimination in civil marriage (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa, New York, New Hampshire and Washington). Governor O'Malley himself used to oppose marriage equality and only supported civil unions but has since moved enthusiastically into the pro-marriage equality camp and demonstrate that by his willingness to sign the bill in front of television cameras and then open the Governor's mansion for a celebration afterwards.

Maryland is the third state legislature to pass a marriage equality bill in 2012 (following Washington State on February 8, 2012 and New Jersey on February 17, 2012) with the two Democratic Governors (like Chris Gregoire in Washington and O'Malley in Maryland signing the bills into law, both of which will be faced with referendum campaigns to annull these measures at the ballot box. In New Jersey, Republican Governor Chris Christie vetoed his state's marriage equality bill, but said he would have signed it into law if it included a referendum provision, which is anathema to Democratic legislators and LGBT activists in New Jersey.

Congratulations to Maryland! Now let's make sure same-sex couples will have the right to protect their families with all the responsibilities and privileges of civil marriage starting in January 2013 by defeating any campaign to prevent the bill from going into effect.

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