Wednesday, February 24, 2010

DC Agenda: Maryland may recognize same-sex marriages

This from the DC Agenda is great news for LGBT Foreign Service families. If Maryland acts on this and offers recognition of out-of-state marriages, it will mean Foreign Service families will be able to choose to live in either Maryland or the District and have their marriages recognized. Virginia, of course, does not have marriage equality, and as of last week, no longer even offers protection from discrimination to LGBT state workers.

As one person said, Virginia can legally advertise jobs with the phrase "gays need not apply."

Maryland may recognize same-sex marriages, Gansler says in opinion
Posted on 24 February 2010 by Joshua Lynsen

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler says a same-sex marriage that is “valid in the jurisdiction in which it was contracted” may be recognized in Maryland under state law.

“Such marriages may be recognized in several ways,” says the opinion. “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.”

Gansler’s long-awaited opinion, released Wednesday morning, also notes that Gov. Martin O’Malley cannot force state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed elsewhere.

“An executive order of the governor must be consistent with existing Maryland law, as
enacted by the General Assembly and construed by the courts,” the opinion says. “While the state Constitution and statutes accord the governor broad powers in certain areas — for example, in matters concerning executive branch employees — many questions concerning recognition of out-of-state marriages arise in the courts and cannot be addressed in an executive order.”

The full opinion is available online here. DC Agenda will have full coverage of the opinion later today.

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