The opponents to Maryland's new same-sex marriage law are holding a series of closed-door training sessions to teach volunteers how to properly collect signatures to petition the measure to referendum.

In an email, the Maryland Marriage Alliance said it wants to "gather a minimum" of 150,000 signatures by May 31. "Past efforts have proven that the Board of Elections will invalidate at least 30% of the signatures, so it is imperative that we gather thousands and get it right!" according to the email.

The opponents to same-sex marriage are trying to downplay the online signature collection tool that was helpful in securing signatures for the successful campaign to repeal an bill giving in-state tuition discounts to illegal immigrants. "The online petition process is a valuable resource ... We do, however, encourage as many as possible to run signature drives at their church, home, or organization."

The tactic suggests that opponents are using the signature gathering process as an organizing tool for the November referendum. There's little doubt that the needed signatures could be gathered -- several on the House floor said it would take "two weekends" to pull together the needed names to trigger a referendum.

Supporters of the law have also launched a petition campaign -- an effort that will have no effect on the law but would give a pro-gay marriage coalition a list of those to tap for help during the referendum.

Upcoming training sessions for opponents gathering signatures will be at:

Wednesday, March 21st- 7:00 pm
St. Mark’s the Evangelist Catholic Church
7501 Adelphi Road
Hyattsville, MD
 
Wednesday, March 21st – 6:30 pm
Bethany Baptist Church
4200 Townsend Ave
Brooklyn, MD
 
Thursday, March 22nd - 6:30 pm
Christian Community Church of God
2701 West Baltimore Street