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Gay marriage question evolves one state at a time; Maryland about to become eighth state to legalize

BY CURTIS TATE, MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS

WASHINGTON -- Though same-sex marriage is racking up victories in state legislatures and federal courts, and gaining public support, especially among younger people, it could be years before gay and lesbian couples can marry in all 50 states.

No current court case will result in same-sex marriage nationwide, legal experts say, and the best near-term outcome for supporters will be that some states allow it, and the federal government will defer to each state on the question of who is married and who isn't.

And in the meantime, opponents of gay marriage vow to take the issue directly to voters - and the ballot box is the one place where they haven't lost.

"I think the country is likely to be divided on this issue for a long time," said Andrew Koppelman, a law professor at Northwestern University.

Increasingly, courts and state legislatures have decided that same-sex couples shouldn't be treated differently from opposite-sex couples. It's an incremental process, playing out state by state, reflecting the feelings of a changing but still divided public.

On Thursday, the Maryland legislature approved a bill to legalize gay marriage. Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, said he would sign it, making Maryland the eighth state to give gay and lesbian couples the right to marry.

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Seven states allowed gay marriages and now its time for Maryland. There are many problems with the approval because lot many anti gay marriage communities are against their legality.

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