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Baltimore Mass Wedding Of Same-Sex Couples To Be Presided Over By Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

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A rainbow-colored wedding cake is topped with male and female same-sex couple figurines at a symbolic mass gay wedding celebrated by more than 100 same-sex couples on June 1, 2004 in West Hollywood, California. The ceremony kicks off National Gay Pride Month. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will preside over a mass wedding of same-sex couples at this year's Baltimore Pride Celebration, with the event drawing interest from couples as far away as Atlanta, according to organizers.

In November, Maryland became one of the first states to have same-sex marriage approved by voters in a referendum.

"After doing so much work on this -- on the ballot initiative -- we thought, how do we really celebrate this?" said organizer Carrietta Hiers, who plans to marry her partner of nearly 13 years, Tonya Cook, at the ceremony.

The GLBT Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland is hosting the annual parade and block party in Mount Vernon and festival at Druid Hill Park -- the largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender gathering in the state -- on June 15 and 16. The mass wedding will take place in the park at 2:30 p.m. June 16.

Hiers, who set up the Facebook page WeDoBmore to raise interest in the event, said she has heard from about a dozen couples who want to be part of the mass wedding, and is fielding requests for more information from others. Couples must obtain a marriage license from the city clerk's office or another jurisdiction a few days before the event, per regulations.

Ryan O'Doherty, a spokesman for Rawlings-Blake, confirmed that the mayor will officiate marriages and speak at the event. Rawlings-Blake also performed marriages at City Hall for several couples just after midnight Jan. 1, when the law went into effect. Last week, Baltimore Pride organizers announced Rawlings-Blake would serve as grand marshal in recognition of her support of gay rights.

Hiers said she reached out to the mayor because of that history of support.

"She's been an advocate for us all along," Hiers said of Rawlings-Blake.

Two local ministers will also be on hand to perform marriages.

Hiers, a gay rights advocate in Baltimore, is excited for her own wedding, as well as in the interest from other couples, who will be coming from Atlanta and Philadelphia, in addition to Maryland. She believes the mass wedding to be one of the first such events of its kind.

"It's exciting, it's history," she said. ___

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