Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, center, speaks at a Nov. 5 news conference in Baltimore in support of same-sex marriage. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

With Maryland’s same-sex marriage law set to take effect Jan. 1, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) on Thursday directed his Cabinet secretaries to “work expeditiously” to clear any bureaucratic hurdles that stand in the way of conferring new rights on gay couples.

His memo was issued following news reports that same-sex couples will not be able to file joint tax returns under current state policy. Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) has pledged to fix that problem by the time 2013 taxes are due.

“Many areas of Maryland law address marital status — including insurance, taxes, governmental benefits, and property — and many state agencies will be required to update their policies and practices,” O’Malley sid in the memo.

He asked that Cabinet officials notify his legal counsel of any remaining “barriers.”

O’Malley signed Maryland’s same-sex marriage law in March. It was promptly petitioned to the ballot by opponents. On Nov. 6, voters upheld the new law, 52 percent to 48 percent.