A marriage bill came within a whisker of passage in 2011, but was shelved in the House of Delegates at the last minute when leaders determined they were a few votes shy. Securing those "few votes" this year took up much of the first 45 days of Maryland's General Assembly's legislative session.
But even with the governor's signature, same-sex couples won't get Maryland marriage certificates until the law goes into effect in January 2013 -- at the earliest.
Fired-up opponents have pledged to collect 100,000 signatures opposing the bill by June 30 -- about twice what they would need to trigger a state-wide referendum on the topic. On Wednesday several powerful groups joined forces to accomplish that goal.
Polls show that Marylanders are evenly split on the issue -- so there's no telling what will happen in November.