Maryland’s Attorney General Considering Whether Out-of-State Marriages Can Be Recognized
June 23, 2009
Maryland has seen some important incremental progress on equal rights in the last couple of years. Last year, laws were enacted providing limited rights for domestic partners—including important protections like the right to make medical decisions for an incapacitated partner and exemption from property transfer taxes. This year, the legislature passed a bill exempting domestic partners from inheritance taxes on jointly owned property, and also approved Gov. Martin O’Malley’s budget, which, for the first time, will provide domestic partner benefits to state employees. These are important steps forward, and we congratulate Equality Maryland, fair-minded legislators, and Gov. O’Malley for these advances (we also congratulate Equality Maryland and fair-minded legislators for continuing to beat back proposals to add an amendment that would write a discriminatory prohibition against marriage by same-sex couples into the state constitution). There are still critical gaps in the law—same-sex couples cannot marry in the state, and anti-discrimination laws do not include protections for transgender people. With the legislative session ended for the year, those goals will remain on the agenda for next year. However, even with the legislature out of session, there is a chance Maryland may take another important step forward. Attorney General Doug Gansler, who has twice testified in support of marriage equality legislation, is planning to issue a formal opinion as to whether Maryland can recognize marriages by same-sex couples legally performed in other jurisdictions. New York has already taken this step, and the D.C. Council recently passed legislation that would similarly recognize marriages from other jurisdictions. Openly gay State Senator Rich Madaleno (Montgomery County) requested an opinion on this matter from the Attorney General. If you live in Maryland and were legally married out of state, we want to hear from you—if Maryland does begin recognizing marriages by same-sex couples from other jurisdictions, it will be important to be able to identify couples who can benefit from this much-needed step. Please contact me at [email protected] if you and your spouse live in Maryland, legally married outside the state, but do not currently receive recognition of your marriage in the state.
May 24, 2013