TILGHMAN ISLAND, Md. -- Same-sex couples in Maryland were greeted with cheers and noisemakers held over from New Year's Eve parties, as gay marriage became legal in the first state south of the Mason-Dixon Line on New Year's Day.
James Scales, 68, was married to William Tasker, 60, on Tuesday shortly after midnight by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake inside City Hall.
"It's just so hard to believe it's happening," Scales said shortly before marrying his partner of 35 years.
Six other same-sex couples also were being married at City Hall.
The ceremonies follow a legislative fight that pitted Gov. Martin O'Malley against leaders of his Catholic faith. Voters in the state, founded by Catholics in the 17th century, sealed the change by approving a November ballot question.
"There is no human institution Maryland, Maine and Washington state were the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote. Same-sex couples in Maryland have been able to get marriage licenses since Dec. 6, but they did not take effect until Tuesday.
In total, nine states and the District of Columbia have approved same-sex marriage. The other states are Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington.
Meanwhile, the weddings continued throughout the day Tuesday. Clayton Zook, 28, and Wayne McKenzie, 30, married by the waters of the Chesapeake Bay at the Black Walnut Point Inn on Tilghman Island.
"We've been together for six and a half years, so this one day doesn't really change a whole lot as far as our feelings," said Zook, of Baltimore. "It does change a whole lot in how we are recognized, and we're certainly felt more as equal in the state of Maryland now."