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MD Attorney General Indicates State can Recognize Out-of-State Same-Sex Marriages

Maryland state Attorney General Douglas Gansler released an opinion yesterday that states Maryland should recognize marriages of same-sex couples performed out-of-state. The ruling (see PDF) does not have the weight of law, but is considered a guideline for state officials. Gansler said, “There is no law in Maryland that says we don’t recognize out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples…Based on the law and the state of the law in Maryland and the Constitution of the United States, this is what the law is,” according to the Baltimore Sun. The ruling itself states “The Court of Appeals would start from the general principle that a marriage that is valid in the place of celebration remains valid in Maryland. There is an exception to that rule if the particular marriage is contrary to a strong State public policy…While the matter is not free from all doubt, in our view, the Court is likely to respect the law of other states and recognize a same-sex marriage contracted validly in another jurisdiction.” Same sex marriage is currently legal in five states (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont). Washington, DC, approved same sex marriage legislation in December 2009 and is waiting for a mandatory 30 day congressional review period to expire next week before the legislation becomes law. Legislation to legalize same sex marriage was recently defeated in New York and New Jersey. Currently, California is waiting for a ruling in a case that will decide whether Proposition 8, the November 2008 ballot initiative that overturned the right of same-sex marriage in the state, is constitutional. Civil unions are currently legal in Maryland and four other states (Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine, and New Jersey). According to the New York Times, Maryland law does not specifically address the validity of same-sex marriages performed out of state, but does define marriage as being between one man and one woman.

Sources:

Maryland Attorney General Ruling 2/23/10; Baltimore Sun 2/25/10; New York Times 2/24/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 1/25/10

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