New Year's Eve parties overlapped with Maryland's first same-sex marriage parties as 2013 began in the first state south of the Mason-Dixon line to legalize gay marriage. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake married 68-year-old mayor's office employee James Scales to his male partner of 35 years shortly after midnight, when the law came into effect, the AP reports. "There is no human institution more sacred than that of the one that you are about to form," she said during the brief ceremony. "True marriage, true marriage, is the dearest of all earthly relationships."
In November, Maryland, Maine, and Washington became the first states to approve gay marriage by popular vote. Dozens more same-sex weddings are due to take place across the state today, although protests against gay marriage are also planned, the Baltimore Sun reports. The Westboro Baptist Church has received permission to protest outside the courthouse in Annapolis, but the Episcopal church across the street plans a counter-protest to "bear witness to the good news of God's unconditional love."