It passed the House last week and the Senate tonight, and the governor’s signature is a fait accompli:
The final vote by the state Senate ended a yearlong drama in Annapolis over the legislation, and marked the first time an East Coast state south of the Mason-Dixon line has supported gay nuptials…
Despite one of the largest Democratic majorities in any state legislature, backers of gay marriage in Maryland had to overcome fierce opposition from blocks of African American lawmakers and those with strong Catholic and evangelical views to cobble together coalitions big enough to pass both chambers.
The bill didn’t become viable until two more Democrats were elected to the Senate in 2010, which finally gave them the votes to move the bill out of committee. Next up: The inevitable popular referendum to see whether the law should be blocked. According to Ballotpedia, polls taken in early 2011 and 2012 show roughly 50 percent support for gay marriage in the state versus opposition in the low 40s. Much will depend on turnout, but the true significance of the referendum is that potentially it applies a bit more pressure to the Supreme Court to take this issue up constitutionally. That’s probably a done deal anyway thanks to the Ninth Circuit’s recent ruling on Prop 8, but if Maryland’s gay-marriage opponents win the referendum and gay rights activists sue to have it thrown out, that’ll be two cases in two different states in two different regions involving a question of majority rule pitted directly against minority rights. Hard for the Court to resist.Via Mediaite, here’s Chris Christie squaring off with WaPo’s Jonathan Capehart this a.m. on “Morning Joe” over his veto of New Jersey’s gay marriage bill. They’re actually both wrong here, I think. First Capehart accuses Christie of letting a popular referendum determine the civil rights of a minority, but that’s not actually true. As I understand it, any potential referendum in New Jersey would seek to overturn Christie’s veto by asking simply