Photo Retrospective: The road to the freedom to marry in Maryland!

In the first hours of 2013, sam-sex couples across the state of Maryland will finally have the freedom to marry, making Maryland the ninth state in the country that has ended the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. Marriage advocates in Maryland campaigned long and hard in order to win marriage for same-sex couples. But how did we do it? Relive the road to the freedom to marry in Maryland with this photo retrospective!

1. The Maryland legislature approved a bill extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples on February 17 (in the House) and February 23 (in the Senate), one year after a nearly identical bill - one that allowed for civil marriages for same-sex couples and explicitly protected religious freedom in the state - was unsuccessful in the legislature. (Photo by Wikimedia Commons)

2. Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the bill into law on March 1, 2012, just a few days after the governor of Washington signed a similar marrigae bill into law.

3. Almost immediately, anti-gay activists began collecting signatures in order to qualify for a referendum. In response, Marylanders for Marriage Equality forms to protect the law, attempting to win with a popular vote at the ballot box in November. 

4. Marriage advocates in Maryland made a splash this summer, talking to as many residents as possible and appearing at dozens of public events and celebrations - including Pride festivals across the state. 

5. In May 2012, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples would be recognized in Maryland.  The unanimous decision came two years after the lawsuit began, when Gov. O'Malley sought to equally respect lawful out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples in Feb. 2010. (Photo by The Washington Blade)

6. Marylanders for Marriage Equality rally support in communities across the state. By speaking with voters and capturing the stories of couples and families affected by the prospective ballot measure, the organization was able to build momentum over the course of Summer 2012. (Photos by Marylanders for Marriage Equality)

7. The referendum officially qualified for the ballot, and the Vote For 6 campaign launched. Marriage advocates in the state - supporters of Marylanders for Marriage Equality - asked people to vote FOR Question 6 in order to uphold the freedom to marry.


8. Couples spoke out about why marriage matters to them - including Lakisha and ShaDonna from Prince George's County (pictured), Jo and Teresa from Cheverly, Lindsey and Jessica from Silver Spring, and Bobbie and Jen from Baltimore. Read their stories HERE. 

9. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pushed for Question 6. The powerful politician, an alum of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, donated $250,000 to the Vote for 6 campaign, saying, "Maryland will always hold a special place in my heart." Other high-profile figures in the country, including Sean Avery, Edward Norton, Julianne Moore, and Sarah Jessica Parker, and Adam Lambert also lent their voices to the campaign. 

10. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People signed on in full support, lending their name and powerful voice to the conversation throughout the course of the campaign. NAACP Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond penned an editorial in a leading Maryland newspaper calling for the freedom to marry, and NAACP President Ben Jealous continued his organization's fervent support of ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. All of this came just a few months after the national NAACP board passed a resolution supporting same-sex couples' freedom to marry. 

11. Religious leaders spoke out for marriage. One advertisement from the Vote For 6 campaign in particular emphasized people of faith speaking out in support of the marriage law. The ads explained that the law expanded civil marriage rights and strictly provided for religious freedom for churches and other religious institutions. 

12. On Election Day, November 6, Marylanders cast a historic vote to affirm the freedom to marry. On the same night, communities in Maine, Washington, and Minnesota also sided with the freedom to marry on their respective ballot initiatives. Since the law was affirmed, it would take effect on January 1, 2013, and same-sex couples across the state would be allowed to marry. 

13. Gov. O'Malley signs marriage referendum into law, allowing couples in Maryland to apply for marriage licenses. O'Malley wrote on his Facebook page, "It's official! Courthouses can now issue licenses to same-sex couples for January weddings. Today is a big step forward for the dignity of every child's home." Weddings will begin at midnight on January 1, 2013! (Photo by The Washington Blade)