Del. Anne R. Kaiser (D-Montgomery) and Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore), both openly gay members of the Maryland General Assembly, before Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the Civil Marriage Protection Act in Annapolis last week. (Patrick Semansky/Associated Press)

Marylanders for Marriage Equality, a coalition that backs the new law, is collecting names online in an effort to show “support for defending marriage equality for loving gay and lesbian couples.”

The petitioning by the proponents has no bearing on whether the issue is put before Maryland voters in November.

That is entirely up to their adversaries. If opponents gather 55,736 valid signatures from Maryland voters by June 30, the new law will be put on hold pending the outcome of a November ballot measure.

Just about everyone, including Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who sponsored the same-sex marriage bill, expects the issue to be decided at the polls.

But gay-rights activists are hoping to gain momentum from their efforts (and perhaps collect the e-mail addresses of thousands of supporters whose help could be enlisted come his fall).

“We launched this pledge to demonstrate the level of support for the new law – and to remind people marriage equality is about making families stronger and protecting all of Maryland’s children,” said Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, a member of the larger coalition that supports the new law.

Opponents are hoping to replicate the success last year of a petition drive that halted a new law that would give college tuition breaks to children of certain illegal immigrants. The same Web site — — is part of the new effort.