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Maryland became the first state in the nation to permit same-sex marriage by popular vote Tuesday as voters also approved measures allowing a sixth casino in the state, extending in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants and approving a new congressional map.

Gov. Martin O’Malley issued a statement just after midnight praising the tight vote in support of same-sex marriage.

“Over these past few weeks, Marylanders joined together to affirm that for a free and diverse people of many faiths a people committed to religious freedom the way forward is always found through greater respect for the equal rights and human dignity of all,” O’Malley said.

With a majority of precincts reporting statewide, 51 percent of Maryland voters supported making the state the first in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote, while 52 percent approved the establishment of a new gambling casino in Prince George’s County.

A bill extending in-state college tuition rates to illegal immigrants had received 57 percent support, and 63 percent of voters had approved the state's new congressional map.

Charles County voted in favor of all of the ballot questions except for same-sex marriage, while more-conservative St. Mary's and Calvert counties also opposed in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.

Same-sex marriage received 55 percent disapproval in Charles County, 56 percent in St. Mary's and 55 percent in Calvert.

Sixty percent of Charles County voters cast ballots supporting the in-state tuition bill. Voters in St. Mary's and Calvert were against the measure, with 53 and 54 percent in opposition, respectively.

All three counties were in agreement on the other two ballot initiatives. The new congressional map passed by the legislature received 73, 64 and 62 percent support in Charles, St. Mary's and Calvert respectively. Voters also supported a new casino in Prince George's County by 61, 58, and 57 percent in Charles, St. Mary's and Calvert, respectively.

jnewman@somdnews.com