legal briefs

Sure, Maryland Can Recognize Other States’ Gay Marriages If It Wants To


As we learn an attempt to ban gay marriage in West Virginia failed, some more good news from Maryland: Attorney General Doug Gansler released his long-awaited opinion on whether the state will recognize gay marriages from other jurisdictions. In a word, yes.

Any marriage that is “valid in the jurisdiction in which it was contracted” may be recognized by Maryland, he says.

But could doesn’t mean will: “Such marriages may be recognized in several ways. First, legislation enacted by the General Assembly could provide for recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages generally, or for particular purposes. Second, in the absence of legislation, the Court of Appeals, applying common law choice-of-law principles, could decide that such marriages will be recognized in Maryland, either generally or in particular circumstances. Finally, a state agency may also address the recognition of out-of-state marriages on particular matters within that agency’s jurisdiction, so long as the agency’s action is consistent with any relevant statutes and court decisions, including federal laws that may govern the agency’s activities.”

Not that Gov. Martin O’Malley can just issue an executive order forcing state agencies to recognize out-of-state marriages or anything.

[DC Agenda]

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  • Daniel

    Us natives are loving this ruling. We’ll be having a rally march today in Baltimore to celebrate!

  • Sam

    “Not that Gov. Martin O’Malley can just issue an executive order forcing state agencies to recognize out-of-state marriages or anything.”

    Actually, he can’t. That’s in the opinion as well. Unlike in New York, where Governor Patterson issued an executive order to state agencies telling them to respect a court ruling that out-of-state marriages should be valid in New York, no court has ruled on out-of-state marriages in Maryland. So until a court DOES rule, Governor O’Malley can’t issue an executive order telling agencies to respect it. And issuing an executive order absent a court ruling would violate separation of powers: only the legislature can legislate, not the executive.

  • Eric

    I don’t like how this article or headline is written…seems sloppy and snarky. Bottom line: a VERY positive step for LGBT Marylanders.

  • Cam

    Since DC right across the boarder has legal marriage, and DC doesn’t have a law against out of staters coming here to get married, if MD. moves forward with this, it will nearly be as if they completely legalized marriage.

  • Steve

    Here’s a prediction: Very soon, the R’s in Maryland will introduce a new bill to outlaw gay marriage.

    It’s almost a knee-jerk reaction, and very predictable.

  • Fran

    I do not like the way the “recommendation” is written. This was an easy out. It should be a yes or no answer to the yes or no question. Does Maryland recognize same sex marriages performed in states where it is legal or not? YES or NO ?

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