Maryland on Thursday began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, more than three weeks before a law legalizing marriage equality in the state is set to take effect.

Earlier in the day, Governor Martin O'Malley certified results of a ballot measure, known as Question 6, which upheld a gay marriage law approved by lawmakers.

State Attorney General Doug Gansler concluded in a 19-page opinion that clerks of court may begin issuing such licenses before the law takes effect on January 1 so long as they are postdated. He added that clerks could choose to wait until January 2.

A similar marriage law approved by voters in Washington state took effect on Thursday and clerks began issuing marriage licenses. In King County, which includes Seattle, offices opened at 12:01AM and within 3 hours the county announced it had broken its record for most marriage licenses issued in a day.

Washington's three-day waiting period means the state's first weddings won't begin until Sunday. Seattle City Hall will open for 5 hours on Sunday to begin celebrating what are expected to be the state's first gay weddings.