When the clock strikes midnight tonight, it will mark more than simply the start of a new year for some couples in Maryland — it’s also when Maryland’s new marriage equality law officially takes effect. Some same-sex weddings are already planned for the first moments of 2013.
Since New Year’s Day is a government holiday, courthouses across Maryland are closed. But that didn’t stop Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) from taking steps to ensure that same-sex couples won’t have to wait any longer for marriage equality. Rawlings-Blake will open Baltimore’s city hall tonight to allow at least seven same-sex couples to get married, and the mayor plans to serve as an official witness for the wedding ceremonies:
“New Years Day will have a new meaning for the hundreds — if not thousands — of couples who will finally have the right to marry the person they love,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake.
“It is a remarkable achievement for Maryland, and we are excited to open City Hall to host some of the first wedding ceremonies in our great state. Newly married couples will stand before their friends and family to profess their love and commitment to each other. This is what we worked for, and I am looking forward to take part in this historic and jubilant day.”
The first couple to be married at City Hall will be a longtime aide to the mayor and his partner of 35 years. And even though the courthouses in other Maryland cities may not be open, the early marriage licenses that some same-sex couples in the state were able to begin applying for in December will become official at midnight tonight.
After sweeping LGBT victories in November expanded marriage equality across several states, same-sex couples also began getting married in Washington earlier this month and in Maine earlier this week.