Montgomery County and Baltimore allowed same-sex couples to get marriage licenses starting Thursday, after Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a proclamation affirming the results of the Nov. 6 voter referendum allowing same-sex marriage in the state.

About a half-dozen couples had obtained licenses as of Thursday afternoon, according to court clerks.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Clerk Loretta Knight said she had expected more people to apply Thursday but predicts she will see quite a few before the new year.

"They have all of December to apply, right before the [New Year's] break," she said.

Couples cannot marry until Jan. 1. Typically, in Montgomery County marriage licenses are effective 48 hours after applying. For couples applying for same-sex marriage, the application has been amended to be valid only after Jan. 1.

Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler issued an opinion last month saying that cities and counties could begin issuing licenses as soon as Thursday.

In Baltimore, it's a similar process, said Frank Conaway, clerk of the Baltimore City Circuit Court.

The process has been altered to do away with gender identifications for each spouse, now using the term "party" instead of "man" or "woman."

Knight and Conaway said they expect more people to come in as it gets closer to Jan. 1 for those people wanting to get married on New Year's Day.

Two couples who came into Montgomery County on Thursday were excited, Knight said, as they had been together for a long time.

"They were very excited, and we were very excited for them," she said. "It's nice to see people being happy."