In a historic and pathbreaking move, voters in Maryland, Maine and Washington State approved same-sex marriages, becoming the first states to seek popular opinion on this touchy issue. This brings to ten, the number of states, including Washington DC, who have legalized same-sex unions, but there are still 31 states that have laws banning it.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will officiate at the wedding, where the couples will not be called “husband and wife” but simply be proclaimed “lawfully married” by the Mayor. The nuptials are scheduled for an early morning 12:30 a.m. ceremony at the City Hall. The early scheduling is because the law only takes effect at 12:01 a.m.
Darcia Anthony, 32 and her high school beloved are one of the seven couples to be married in the City Hall. Anthony expressed her happiness saying that “It’s just a long time coming.” She said that serving in the National Guard made it hard for her to express her feelings to anyone, but now with the legislation much has been transformed. “I feel like I’m definitely open to be who I am,” she said.
The mayor’s press secretary Ian Brennan said that first couple to exchange vows will be a couple that has perhaps waited the longest, city employee 68-year old James Scales and his partner 60-year old William Tasker, whose friendship has lasted more than 35 years will at last give legitimacy to their long-lasting bond.
The moment the November vote went in their favor, Scales asked the mayor to solemnize his wedding with his long-time partner. Brennan said that the mayor gave her consent as she wanted to send a message across the nation, that gay, lesbian; transgendered couples were welcome in Maryland.
The mayor called the November vote a significant accomplishment for her state and asked friends and families to attend the early morning program. She asked them to come and see history being made.
Of late public opposition to same-sex unions is giving way to accepting this fact of life. An October Pew Research Center survey showed that almost half of all those surveyed were in favor of permitting same-sex marriages. President Obama entered the history books, becoming the first US President to say that gay partners should be permitted to get married.
The US Supreme Court has accepted to review two challenges to government and state legislation that say that a marriage means “a union between a man and a woman.” The apex court also said that it will also review a case that differentiates between benefits among same-sex partners and heterosexual couples. Furthermore, the Supreme Court will also review a challenge to Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, which narrowly scraped through four years ago.
Even as the couples were making last moment arrangements, buying flowers and ordering food there were those opposed to gay weddings planning protests. The ultra-conservative Westboro Baptist Church planned to hold rallies with placards reading “God Hates” gay people. It was reported that they had received permission to gather in front of courthouses in Towson and Annapolis.