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As the governor prepares to sign a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, several Maryland delegates gathered Wednesday to throw their support behind efforts to bring the measure before voters in November.

The drive to gather the required signatures for a referendum will be led by the Maryland Marriage Alliance, as well as MDPetitions.com, an organization chaired by Del. Neil Parrott (R-Dist. 2B) of Hagerstown.

Parrott touted the partnership Wednesday in Annapolis.

“This is a momentous day, [a] huge agreement between the two groups,” Parrott said, explaining that his group’s website will be linked to that of the alliance, where residents can download petition forms.

Signature collection is expected to begin within the next few days, once the alliance gets final approval from the state Board of Elections, Parrott said.

Derek McCoy, director of the alliance, said he expected support from diverse group of residents. “All of those people, collectively, want to see the current definition of marriage upheld,” he said.

Del. Cheryl Glenn (D-Dist. 45) of Baltimore said her office had been overwhelmed with requests from residents to have the measure put to referendum.

Nearly 56,000 signatures are required to put the measure on the ballot. Parrott’s organization also spearheaded the petition drive to bring last year’s Maryland Dream Act, which would allow some illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition, to referendum.

Both chambers of the legislature passed the same-sex marriage bill this month, and Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is expected to sign it into law Thursday.

Recent polls have suggested that state residents are narrowly in favor of same-sex marriage.

“Come November, we think President Obama on the ticket means higher turnout of young voters, who typically support committed gay and lesbian couples getting married,” said Kevin Nix, spokesman for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, in a statement.

dleaderman@gazette.net