At a press conference this afternoon, Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler announced that the state, effective immediately, recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions and agencies should begin affording those couples rights.
Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler issued a sound legal opinion [pdf] analyzing Maryland’s marriage comity laws and concluding that the state can recognize marriages between two people of the same sex performed outside of the state.
Although this opinion won’t erase many of the inequalities same-sex couples in Maryland face, it is certainly a positive development on the road to full equality. As states deal with the issue of treating all couples equally, today’s opinion continues to highlight the burdensome patchwork of unequal laws same-sex couples face across the country.
Maryland joins New York in providing marriage rights to same-sex couples married out of jurisdiction while not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples within the state. The Attorney General’s opinion explains that the state may recognize out of jurisdiction marriages either through legislation enacted by the Maryland General Assembly, through a decision of the Court of Appeals, or by state agencies. With Washington, D.C. poised to begin accepting marriage applications from same-sex couples on March 3, 2010, when the Congressional review period ends, recognition of same-sex marriages will have a significant practical meaning for many same-sex couples in Maryland.