Gay Marriage Clears Big Hurdle in Maryland State could soon be the eighth state to legalize By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Feb 17, 2012 6:20 PM CST 33 comments Comments Protesters rally against a gay marriage bill in Annapolis, Md., Friday. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (Newser) – Gay rights advocates got something to jeer and cheer on the national stage within the space of about an hour this evening: Just after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed same-sex marriage in his state, lawmakers in Maryland gave it the thumbs-up in theirs. A bill legalizing gay marriage cleared the state's House of Delegates 71-67, reports the Washington Post. The measure is expected to breeze through the state Senate next week, notes the Baltimore Sun, and Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley has promised to sign it into law. That would make Maryland the eighth state to sanction gay marriage, although the Post says opponents are expected to begin a petition drive to put the measure on the ballot and give voters the final say.