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12.23.12news-smith-jim-bill_0
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Gay couples are preparing for New Year’s Day weddings in the first state south of the Mason-Dixon Line to allow same-sex marriage, which will become legal in Maryland on Tuesday.

The new law takes effect at 12:01 a.m. and follows a legislative fight that pitted Gov. Martin O’Malley against leaders of his Catholic faith. Voters in the state, founded by Catholics in the 17th century, sealed the change by approving a November ballot question.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Jim Scales, who made a Christmas present of his marriage license to William Tasker, his partner of 35 years. Scales, 68, and Tasker, 60, plan to be married at a ceremony at Baltimore City Hall by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake shortly after midnight.

Same-sex couples in Maryland have been able to get marriage licenses since Dec. 6, but they do not take effect until Tuesday.

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