HRC Blog

What’s Next for Maine, Maryland, Minnesota & Washington

Post submitted by Brian Moulton, Former HRC Legal Director

Last night, equality prevailed, bringing marriage equality to Americans in Maine, Maryland and Minnesota. Here’s what you need to know about marriage equality in each state, when the laws will take effect and the rights married same-sex couples will receive in these states.

Maine

Mainers voted to pass Question 1, which allows loving same-sex couples to legally marry in the state. This law will take effect 30 days after the governor proclaims last night’s election results, which won’t come until the results are officially tabulated, so we don’t yet know exactly when marriage licenses will become available to same-sex couples.  Check back at HRC’s blog for updates.

How do I obtain a marriage license in Maine?

Once licenses are made available to same-sex couples, the procedures will be the same as the existing ones for other married couples.  All the details are available here: www.maine.gov/portal/family/marriage.html

What rights and responsibilities do same-sex couples who legally marry receive in Maine?

Same-sex spouses receive the same rights and responsibilities provided to different-sex spouses under Maine law, including health care decision-making, property and inheritance rights.  Married same-sex couples do not receive access to the more than 1,100 federal rights and responsibilities based on marriage because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and the new law in Maine does not change that.

What do I have to do if I'm a Maine resident who is legally married in another jurisdiction?

You do not have to get married in Maine or otherwise register your marriage in Maine.  Maine’s marriage equality law recognizes as valid lawful marriages between same-sex couples from other jurisdictions. 

What does the law mean if I have entered into a state registered domestic partnership with my partner in Maine?

In 2003, Maine enacted a statewide domestic partnership registry that grants limited rights and benefits to registered domestic partners.  A domestic partnership is terminated when either of the registered partners marries (including if the partners marry one another).  Couples who have registered or will register as domestic partners, but are not legally married, will continue to have access to the limited rights and responsibilities available under the state registry.  Domestic partnerships do not automatically convert to marriages.

 

Maryland:

Marylanders voted to pass Question 6, a referendum allowing same-sex couples to legally marriage. The new law will take effect in Maryland on January 1, 2013. 

How do I obtain a marriage license in Maryland?

Once licenses are made available to same-sex couples, the procedures will be the same as the existing ones for other married couples.  All the details are available here: www.courts.state.md.us/faq.html#marriageinfo.

What rights and responsibilities do same-sex couples who legally marry receive in Maryland?

Same-sex spouses receive the same rights and responsibilities provided to different-sex spouses under Maryland law, including health care decision-making, property and inheritance rights.  Married same-sex couples do not receive access to the more than 1,100 federal rights and responsibilities based on marriage because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and the new law in Maryland does not change that.

What do I have to do if I'm a Maryland resident who is legally married in another jurisdiction?

You do not have to get married in Maryland or otherwise register your marriage in Maryland.  On February 24, 2010, Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler issued an advisory legal opinion 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. In a follow up press conference, AG Gansler announced agencies should begin affording those same-sex couples rights.

 

Minnesota:

On Election night, Minnesotans struck down an Amendment 1, which would have changed the state constitution to bar same-sex couples from marrying. While Minnesota still has a law that prohibits marriage for same-sex couples, the win on Election Night proves that momentum in the state is behind marriage equality. 

 

Washington

Washington voters approved Referendum 74, which allows loving same-sex couples to legally marry in the state.  This law will take effect December 6, 2012.  

How do I obtain a marriage license in Washington?

Once licenses are made available to same-sex couples, the procedures will be the same as the existing ones for other married couples.  They are issued at the county level and procedures/fees may vary slightly; links to information from individual counties is available here: http://access.wa.gov/living/resources/marriage.aspx.   

What rights and responsibilities do same-sex couples who legally marry receive in Washington?

Same-sex spouses receive the same rights and responsibilities provided to different-sex spouses under Washington law, including health care decision-making, property and inheritance rights.  Married same-sex couples do not receive access to the more than 1,100 federal rights and responsibilities based on marriage because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and the new law in Washington does not change that.

What do I have to do if I'm a Washington resident who is legally married in another jurisdiction?

You do not have to get married in Washington or otherwise register your marriage in Washington.  Washington’s marriage equality law recognizes as valid lawful marriages between same-sex couples from other jurisdictions. What does the law mean if I have entered into a domestic partnership with my partner in Washington?

In 2007, Washington enacted statewide domestic partnerships, and expanded them in 2009 to grant all the rights and benefits of marriage to registered domestic partners.  A couple who is currently in a registered domestic partnership can marry and their domestic partnership will dissolve.  On June 30, 2014, the remaining domestic partnerships will automatically convert to marriages unless they are dissolved.  Domestic partnerships will continue, however, for couples (gay and straight) where at least one partner is at least 62.

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