Tomorrow, gay couples across Maryland can take the first step toward equal recognition of their relationships when county clerks of courts for the first time will be allowed to issue licenses for same-sex marriages. And we may get a hint of just how equal those marriages will be on Friday, when the Supreme Court is due again to debate which, if any, of several key lawsuits about the status of same-sex marriages under federal and constitutional law it will take up during this term. One of the compromises proponents of same-sex marriage struck in order to get enough votes in the House of Delegates was a provision that prevented the new law from taking effect before midnight Dec. 31. But that left some unanswered questions. Would court clerks only be able to issue the licenses after the law goes into effect? That would mean no licenses until Jan. 2, since the courts are closed on the 1st, and no marriages until Jan. 4 because of a waiting period in Maryland law. Given how long gay couples have waited to wed legally here, a delay until the 4th may not seem like a big deal, but it certainly lacks a bit of the romance of a New Year's Day wedding.