Same-Sex Couples Can Prepare for Nuptials

State attorney general gives the go ahead.


Capital News Service

An opinion released Thursday by the Maryland attorney general’s office said that same-sex couples can obtain marriage licenses as soon as Gov. Martin O’Malley “formally proclaims” the which he is expected to do on or about Dec. 6.

The law, and therefore the licenses, will not be effective until Jan. 1.

Attorney General Douglas Gansler answered other questions about the implementation of Maryland's same-sex marriage law in a 19-page opinion.

Gansler and Chief Counsel Adam Snyder found that postdating the licenses’ effective date doesn’t impose an unconstitutional waiting period on same-sex couples because it’s the ceremony, not the license, that validates the marriage.

The attorney general’s opinion came in response to questions from circuit court clerks from around the state in the wake of voter approval of same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage was passed by the legislature during this year’s session, but opponents petitioned the law to a referendum.

Voters also approved same-sex marriage in Maine and Washington, and rejected a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Minnesota.

Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia also issue same-sex marriage licenses.

The opinion left the wording of same-sex marriage vows, including the traditional “man and wife” pronouncement, to the discretion of the administrative judge. It recommended, however, that judges defer to the couples themselves as to how they will be referenced in their vows.

The opinion also addressed the gray area created by civil unions –– especially those performed in states that grant all the same rights and responsibilities of marriage.

Vanessa Bowling with Equality Maryland -- a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization -- said the group has been receiving a lot of questions about out-of-state and out-of-country marriage licenses.

Even if one or both parties is engaged in a civil union in another state, with each other or a different person, a license can still be issued in Maryland, said Alan Brody, deputy communications director for the attorney general’s office.

While the courts may rule differently later, the opinion deals solely with the issue of licensing.

Capital News Service’s Rachael Pacella contributed to this report.

Stuart December 03, 2012 at 04:27 AM
The current Maryland law (which will change effective Jan 1, 2013 to allow same-sex marriage) is discriminatory. The state and federal government provide quite a number of rights to heterosexual couples that same-sex couples are denied. So, opposing the new law is, by definition, supporting this discrimination. Period. Someone may have beliefs or opinions that do not allow them to support same-sex marriage, but then they are endorsing discrimination. I'm not sure I have respect for those who endorse that (they probably don't see themselves as being discriminatory).
jag December 03, 2012 at 05:39 AM
Stuart, I agree. Of course it's, definitionally, discriminatory to allow certain unions to be classified as marriage and others not to be. However, also definitionally, "bigot" requires some level of hatred which certainly can't be found in every single person who's anti-SSM. That's all some ppl are saying.
jag December 03, 2012 at 05:58 AM
Stuart, to expand, there's all sorts of discrimination in our country. Surely, you support a few instances of it yourself (e.g. an 18 year old can't buy alcohol, a woman can't serve in a combat role, etc.). That doesn't inherently make you evil or bigoted. There are perfectly valid reasons for treating different people differently. Some believe that should include not allowing marriage between two people of the same gender. Certainly, some of those people think that because they're close minded, bigoted fools. But certainly not everyone against SSM falls into that category and being pro-discrimination doesn't inherently mean you're evil or hateful. Personally, I most certainly voted for SSM and am very proud of Maryland.
Jeff Hawkins December 03, 2012 at 02:12 PM
The words "bigot" and "racist" are clearly thrown around with too much ease these days. They are easy words to use by some to "demonize" a group of people who might have a different opinion than their own. The flip side of this might be the use in todays world such "superstar", "idol" and other superlatives. We creat many false enemies false heroes by making these mistakes.
Stuart December 04, 2012 at 06:14 AM
As Emily Litella might say, "what's all this talk about spigots?"


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