ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the state’s same-sex marriage bill into law Thursday, making Maryland the eighth state along with the District to legalize gay marriage.
Mr. O'Malley, a Democrat, signed the bill during a brief ceremony at the Statehouse which was attended by hundreds of supporters and lawmakers. He was joined by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, who also put their signatures to the bill.
“All of us at the end of the day want the same thing for our children,” said Mr. O’Malley, who was the legislation’s lead sponsor. “We want them to live in a loving, caring and committed home that is protected equally under the law.”
The bill narrowly passed the House last month with support from Mr. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat, then easily passed the Senate where Mr. Miller, Prince George’s Democrat, voted against it.
Officials on both sides of the issue have acknowledged it could likely be decided not by the governor, but by a November referendum.
Opponents expect to begin circulating a petition this month in an attempt to suspend the law and send it to a statewide vote. They would need to collect 55,736 valid voter signatures by June 30.
If the law is upheld, it would allow gays to marry starting on Jan. 1.