Maryland issued its first licenses to gay couples Thursday morning, a month after voters upheld the state’s same-sex marriage law, which goes into effect Jan. 1.
Among the first to receive one was Kim Hinken, 52, in Anne Arundel County, one of seven jurisdictions that began offering the postdated licenses Thursday after Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) signed a proclamation formally declaring that Question 6 had been passed.
“It was awesome to hold that license in my hand,” said Hinken, her voice solemn.
A Virginia native who lives in Edgewater, Hinken has been with her fiancee, Adri Eathorne, for almost 10 years, and said she moved to Maryland in part because of more favorable views there toward gay marriage.
Still, she said, “I’ve been a lesbian all my life and I honestly thought I’d never be able to legally marry anybody. . . . It feels like society is really starting to treat us like everybody else.”
While some, like Hinken, got the licenses as soon as they could, courthouses saw a trickle rather than a flood of applicants on Thursday, said Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, which lobbied for the referendum in the run-up to the election.
Evans noted that many Maryland residents had already gotten licenses in places that had already begun issuing them, including the District, which began allowing gay marriage in 2010.
Even those planning to marry in Maryland don’t feel pressured to get their licenses on the first day, she said. “I think because they’re not effective immediately, people are like, ‘Okay, I can do it next week.’ ”
But Alli Harper, 34, and Jenn Monti, 32, of Timonium did not want to wait — they got their license Thursday in Baltimore.
“I’m eight months pregnant with a baby girl,” said Harper, an attorney. “It’s just incredibly special that she’s going to be born into a family that’s respected and protected like all other families in Maryland.”
O’Malley and his wife, Catherine Curran O’Malley, plan to welcome about 200 supporters of same-sex marriage to the governor’s mansion Friday night to celebrate the arrival of gay nuptials in the state, which voters supported by 52 percent to 48 percent.
“This is an opportunity to celebrate its passage and thank the many, many people and organizations who helped ensure the passage of the bill and the referendum,” O’Malley spokeswoman Raquel Guillory said.
John Wagner contributed to this report.