Gay marriage laws in Maine and Maryland begin in less than a week.

In both states, voters decided the issue.

Maryland lawmakers approved a marriage equality bill and Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley signed it into law earlier this year. However, opponents mounted a ballot initiative to repeal it. Voters on November 6 decided to let the law take effect on January 1.

Some Maryland clerks began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples on December 6, the day election results were certified.

Supporters in Maine returned to the ballot box this year after opponents repealed a marriage equality law approved by lawmakers in 2009, making Maine the first state to legalize gay nuptials through a citizen initiative.

The law takes effect on Saturday, December 29. The first weddings appear likely to take place in Portland, the state's largest city, which is scheduled to open City Hall at midnight to inaugurate the marriage law.

Without a waiting period to delay vows, couples will marry soon after receiving their licenses.

The marriages will take place nearly three weeks after Washington state's gay marriage law took effect.