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With one stroke of the pen, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has signed the Marriage Protection Act of 2012, which legalizes same-sex marriage, joining eight other states and the District of Columbia.

STORY: Hip Hip Hooray! Maryland House Approves Same-Sex Marriage Bill 

O’Malley, a Democrat, signed the bill Thursday, a week after its final passage in the Legislature. The law is scheduled to take effect in January 2013.

However, the ink won’t get a chance to dry as opponents are expected to petition the law to a referendum on the November ballot.

Referendum organizers need to collect almost 56,000 signatures to put the measure before voters and are expected to rely heavily on churchgoers who oppose same-sex marriage as a matter of faith, to reach that goal.

As of now, gay Maryland residents are cheerful as they have the right to marry. Congrats to all!

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