Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley to sign gay marriage bill into law Thursday

Gov. Martin O'Malley is scheduled to sign the legislation in a 5 p.m. ceremony Thursday.

Maryland will become the eight state to legalize same-sex marriage when Gov. Martin O’Malley signs the bill into law Thursday.

O'Malley is expected to sign the legislation, which he sponsored, Thursday, though same-sex ceremonies cannot be performed until January 2013.

Gay marriage supporters assume they will have another hurdle to jump as the law is expected to be petitioned to referendum in November.

Gay marriage opponents are prepared to collect the almost 56,000 signatures needed to put the measure on the ballot and are expected to rely heavily on churchgoers who oppose same-sex marriage as a matter of faith, to reach that goal.

Organizers say they hope to collect nearly double the required number of signatures to ensure enough are validated by the state elections board.