Maryland legalizes same-sex marriage; challenge looms

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signs the Same-Sex Marriage Bill into law.

Maryland became the eighth state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage on Thursday, just as opponents were ramping up efforts to repeal the new law at the ballot box.

At a ceremony in the state capitol building attended by a cheering crowd of gay-marriage supporters, Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law the measure he has hailed as a sign of “equal respect for the freedom of all.”

Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York and the District of Columbia currently allow gay and lesbian nuptials.

Washington will join the list in June unless opponents stop it ahead of a possible ballot initiative, and Maryland will be added in January 2013 unless its law, too, is overturned by a threatened referendum in November.

Same-sex marriage supporters in Maine, meanwhile, have gathered more than enough signatures to put the question to voters there this fall, all but guaranteeing it will remain a hotly debated issue in several corners of the country during a presidential election year.

In Maryland, opponents need nearly 56,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot, according to the state Board of Elections. They would need to submit a third of the signatures by May 31 and the remainder by June 30 to get the measure on the November ballot.

A coalition called the Maryland Marriage Alliance has applied to the state to lead the referendum push, and its director has said he expects the group’s petitions will be pre-cleared by state officials for circulation by the end of this week.

Derek McCoy, director of the group, said on Wednesday his coalition was already training outreach teams and could be in churches training pastors on the issue as early as Sunday.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance represents nearly 3,000 churches and organizations statewide that would like to see voters decide the issue at the ballot box, according to McCoy.

“All of those people, collectively, want to see the current definition of marriage upheld,” McCoy said.
Neil Parrott, a Republican in the House of Delegates who opposed the bill, said: “The petitions are going to be in mosques, they’re going to be in synagogues, in churches.”

Countering the repeal effort is Marylanders for Marriage Equality, a coalition including the Human Rights Campaign, the Baltimore Chapter of the NAACP, the Service Employees International Union, Equality Maryland and others that is working to build support for same-sex marriage.

The governor, in unusual personal testimony, urged support of the measure before a legislative committee in January.

The Senate voted in favor of the bill 25 to 22 last week after it was passed by the lower House of Delegates 72 to 67.

Under the new law, religious groups are not required to provide services linked to gay marriage that may violate their beliefs unless they receive federal funding.

Such protections would allow the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic group, to refuse to rent a meeting hall for a same-sex wedding and not require a church counseling service to counsel same-sex couples.
While controversial, same-sex marriage has been gaining acceptance recently. New Jersey passed a gay marriage law through both legislative houses, but it was vetoed by Governor Chris Christie. An appeals court overturned California’s ban on gay marriage, enacted through a 2008 ballot initiative.
Supporters call it a civil rights issue while opponents say marriage should be reserved for unions of a man and a woman.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.