Md. gay-marriage opponents mark progress toward signature goal

ANNAPOLIS — Opponents of Maryland’s same-sex marriage law said Wednesday they have collected more than half the signatures necessary to force a November referendum.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance says it has collected more than 30,000 signatures from voters hoping to overturn the law, which was passed in February by the General Assembly and signed by Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Petitioners have until June 30 to collect 55,736 valid voter signatures, which must be validated by the state Board of Elections. They must submit one-third of those signatures — or 18,579 of them — by May 31.

Maryland is the eighth state to pass legislation allowing gay marriage, but its law is not scheduled to go into effect until January.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance has led opposition to the law, along with state Republicans and religious groups.

Supporters and opponents have acknowledged the law is likely to go to referendum, and polls have shown Maryland voters to be almost evenly divided on the issue.

No state has ever upheld gay marriage in a referendum, but more than 30 states have rejected it.

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