With nearly all precincts reporting, voters in Maryland have approved the Civil Marriage Protection Act, giving same-sex couples the right to marry.
Maryland joins Maine to become one of only two states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote. Maine voters approved their measures tonight as well. As of 10 p.m. PT, a similar measure in Washington state was leading 52 percent to 48 percent.
Until tonight, same-sex marriage has lost at the ballot box 33 times.
“Today the marriage equality map expands to Maryland, giving thousands more loving couples the opportunity to make lifelong commitments through marriage,” said HRC President Chad Griffin, in a statement released moments ago.
“This is a milestone night for the simple truth that when Americans are presented with the real lives of their friends and neighbors, they have no choice but to vote for their equality. It is the momentum reflected in poll after poll that shows a growing majority for marriage equality across the country.
“This victory in Maryland has been hard fought from the legislative fight to a massive campaign operation and we are so proud to have been leaders alongside our state partners in this effort.
“Governor O’Malley has been a champion of this issue and deserves the appreciation of all fair-minded Americans. His leadership, along with groups like the NAACP, have shown that at the end of the day human dignity wins out and that in this country we can have no second-class citizens or second-class marriages.
Same-sex couples in Maryland will be able to marry beginning January 1, 2013 — the date was included in the original legislation passed by the state’s General Assembly.