Attorney General Doug Gansler has released a long-awaited opinion in favor of recognizing out-of-state, same-sex marriages in Maryland. Senator Rich Madeleno (D-Montgomery) requested the Attorney General's opinion in May of 2009.
The opinion concludes the State of Maryland may recognize a same-sex marriage that is valid in the jurisdiction in which it was contracted. The Attorney General's opinion also applies to valid marriages performed in foreign countries.
The opinion is not itself law in Maryland, but an interpretation that may be persuasive to a court reviewing agency action based on the opinion.
Thus what we say in this opinion is a prediction, not a prescription, as to the how the Court would approach this issue under current law.
Translated the fight for marriage equality continues. But with an endorsement of sorts on same-sex marriage from the top legal official in Maryland, LGBT proponents gain a powerful momentum shift during the lawmaking 2010 General Assembly which runs through the second week of April.
In 2007, a Court of Appeals in Anne Arundel County overturned a pro-gay marriage ruling, holding that a ban on gay marriage was not a constitutional violation. Since then Maryland legislators have followed divergent paths to change the law.
Supporters of same-sex marriage have tried to enact a Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act. The proposed bill didn't come to a vote and died in committee in 2009. This year's version, SB 582 will be heard by the Judiciary Committee on March 3rd.
Opposition to same-sex marriage in Maryland seeks to create constitutional amendments to prohibit same-sex marriage and civil unions. The most recent attempt by social conservative Delegate Emmett Burns--HB 90--was defeated in committee last month, 12-8. Had the proposed legislation succeeded, the bill would have invalidated recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages and set policy that same-sex marriages are against Maryland public policy.