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Same-Sex Couples Can Prepare for Nuptials

State attorney general gives the go ahead.

 

By DANA AMIHERE
Capital News Service

An opinion released Thursday by the Maryland attorney general’s office said that same-sex couples can obtain marriage licenses as soon as Gov. Martin O’Malley “formally proclaims” the which he is expected to do on or about Dec. 6.

The law, and therefore the licenses, will not be effective until Jan. 1.

Attorney General Douglas Gansler answered other questions about the implementation of Maryland's same-sex marriage law in a 19-page opinion.

Gansler and Chief Counsel Adam Snyder found that postdating the licenses’ effective date doesn’t impose an unconstitutional waiting period on same-sex couples because it’s the ceremony, not the license, that validates the marriage.

The attorney general’s opinion came in response to questions from circuit court clerks from around the state in the wake of voter approval of same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage was passed by the legislature during this year’s session, but opponents petitioned the law to a referendum.

Voters also approved same-sex marriage in Maine and Washington, and rejected a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Minnesota.

Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia also issue same-sex marriage licenses.

The opinion left the wording of same-sex marriage vows, including the traditional “man and wife” pronouncement, to the discretion of the administrative judge. It recommended, however, that judges defer to the couples themselves as to how they will be referenced in their vows.

The opinion also addressed the gray area created by civil unions –– especially those performed in states that grant all the same rights and responsibilities of marriage.

Vanessa Bowling with Equality Maryland -- a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization -- said the group has been receiving a lot of questions about out-of-state and out-of-country marriage licenses.

Even if one or both parties is engaged in a civil union in another state, with each other or a different person, a license can still be issued in Maryland, said Alan Brody, deputy communications director for the attorney general’s office.

While the courts may rule differently later, the opinion deals solely with the issue of licensing.

Capital News Service’s Rachael Pacella contributed to this report.

Thomas Threlkeld November 30, 2012 at 02:38 PM
A great victory for open-mindedness and loving families and a stinging defeat for the bigots. I'm proud of you, fellow Marylanders.
Eric S. November 30, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Maryland! F**k yeah!
Jeff Hawkins November 30, 2012 at 03:21 PM
A difference of an opinion on a subject does NOT automatically throw everybody into the "bigot" pile. A statement like that is in itself a form of bigotry or at the very least close-mindedness There are many reasons for disagreement........all opinions should be respected.
Kim Cooke November 30, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Jeff, I'm sure Thomas' experiences have been that the majority of people against marriage equality are coming from a place of narrow-mindeness. This is a great moment for freedom, particularly considering the unfortunate law that made it possible to offer up the application of 14th Amendment protections for all people to the will of voters. Luckily it all turned out well. Sadly along the way a lot of money was spent on a secular issue by churches and organizations and I can't help but think that money could have been spent helping people.
Richard Rice November 30, 2012 at 04:25 PM
I am a conservative. I have very good friends in Kensington and elsewhere who are gay but I can not and will not vote against my principles or my conscience!
Jeff Hawkins November 30, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Kim: I don't mean to sound uncaring, cause I'm not. I'm just not an expert on Thomas' experiences. Beliefs are beliefs and all must be respected as long as they do not endanger the lives of others. I can't speak as to the mind-set of those against this law, it could be as many different angles as the people themselves. Each is entitled to their opinion and each opinion is valid. To simply disregard a segment of society's viewpoints for any reason is equally troubling.............that's just my opinion and you know what they all say about opinions :) Disagree & respect..........do ya think it's possible??
Rick Hudson November 30, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Open mindedness is an odd thing, many people I know who are in favor of gay marriage and the dream act are actively opposed to gun rights and hunting. They say things like you dont need to hunt or own guns. Well some peolpels opininon is that they do. Those people are then often vilified as close minded or having antiquted thinking. . It seems a lot of people who are "opend minded" are so as long as it fits their political view, but when a differing opinion comes up they shut down and do the very thing they are acccusing others of doing. If you want to expand rights, expnad ALL rights, not just the ones you think are justified.
Jeff Hawkins November 30, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Well said Rick...... I think that is what I was trying to say, but you said it more clearly....kudos'
jag November 30, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Jeff, the argument would be that Thomas isn't saying bigots aren't allowed to have their opinion or even speak their opinion. And certainly calling a spade a spade isn't inherently disrespectful. There is, undeniably, a chunk of people who voted against SSM because they're bigoted against gay people. Most of them would freely admit that.
jag November 30, 2012 at 05:34 PM
I think that basically sums of the divide between old and young people on this (and basically every social issue this country has ever face - from slavery, to suffrage, to interracial marriage, to same sex marriage, onward). Many younger people are capable and willing to allow their belief system to change over time - they aren't set in their ways until the end of time. Hence the numbers on the same sex marriage issue have changed over the years - people who are against it simply have been dying off.
jag November 30, 2012 at 05:50 PM
You know people who are against gun rights? As in someone who doesn't think the 2nd Amendment exists? Or do you mean people against assault weapons, pro background check, etc.? That's certainly different and undermines your point - no "open minded" person thinks all rights are without limit. Unless they're anarchists/uber libertarian, I guess.
Jeff Hawkins November 30, 2012 at 06:07 PM
@Jag: I can't say what Thomas was thinking, nor can you. You can offer an opinion as I did on what he "typed". I'm saying that folks should not be automatically called "bigots".....that's all............nothing sinister, nothing controversial, no agenda, not forcing my viewpoint on anybody, not trying to demean anyone....
jag November 30, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Fair enough. Hopefully Thomas wasn't saying everyone who is against SSM is a bigot. I certainly would disagree with that point of view.
Jeff Hawkins November 30, 2012 at 06:35 PM
@Jag: Thank you, that's really all I was trying to say....... I agree totally with your statement.
Jim Groves November 30, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Bigot may not be the right word as one could say that if we are not respecting someones religious belief that gays cannot get married, we are also a bigot. Raciest does not work, obviously, but that is the feeling substituting "equality regardless of sexual orientation" for race. Sexism doesn't really work because that is more about treating men and women equally. Sounds like we need a new word created to accurately describe the blatant discriminatory, wrong headed, idiotic ideals by those who think gays should not get married. Any suggestions? Gayist?
Carleton MacDonald November 30, 2012 at 06:53 PM
If you do not believe in same-sex marriage, don't have one - and choose a church that does not do them.
Sean December 01, 2012 at 11:26 PM
There is something bigoted about the arguments against gay marriage; there's almost no way around that. We as a society have privileged married couples, so to argue that one type of couple deserves that privilege while others should be barred from it means that you don't believe those people are your equals. I don't think I'm a bigot for demonizing those who disagree with me because in order for their argument to hold any water, gays would have to be banging down the door demanding a religious right - and we're not. We are asking for equal rights and privileges under the law, not religion, so any religious argument against that (something many of our elected officials are awkwardly fond of presenting regardless of the fact that that is not their job) is, to me, a bigoted argument. Straight people chose to intermingle law and religion, the gays didn't. Present me with an argument regarding the legality of gay marriage and I will have a conversation with you; claim that it's against your religion or you just don't agree with it...and I'll say tough, we're a nation of laws.
Stuart December 03, 2012 at 04:27 AM
The current Maryland law (which will change effective Jan 1, 2013 to allow same-sex marriage) is discriminatory. The state and federal government provide quite a number of rights to heterosexual couples that same-sex couples are denied. So, opposing the new law is, by definition, supporting this discrimination. Period. Someone may have beliefs or opinions that do not allow them to support same-sex marriage, but then they are endorsing discrimination. I'm not sure I have respect for those who endorse that (they probably don't see themselves as being discriminatory).
jag December 03, 2012 at 05:39 AM
Stuart, I agree. Of course it's, definitionally, discriminatory to allow certain unions to be classified as marriage and others not to be. However, also definitionally, "bigot" requires some level of hatred which certainly can't be found in every single person who's anti-SSM. That's all some ppl are saying.
jag December 03, 2012 at 05:58 AM
Stuart, to expand, there's all sorts of discrimination in our country. Surely, you support a few instances of it yourself (e.g. an 18 year old can't buy alcohol, a woman can't serve in a combat role, etc.). That doesn't inherently make you evil or bigoted. There are perfectly valid reasons for treating different people differently. Some believe that should include not allowing marriage between two people of the same gender. Certainly, some of those people think that because they're close minded, bigoted fools. But certainly not everyone against SSM falls into that category and being pro-discrimination doesn't inherently mean you're evil or hateful. Personally, I most certainly voted for SSM and am very proud of Maryland.
Jeff Hawkins December 03, 2012 at 02:12 PM
The words "bigot" and "racist" are clearly thrown around with too much ease these days. They are easy words to use by some to "demonize" a group of people who might have a different opinion than their own. The flip side of this might be the use in todays world such "superstar", "idol" and other superlatives. We creat many false enemies false heroes by making these mistakes.
Stuart December 04, 2012 at 06:14 AM
As Emily Litella might say, "what's all this talk about spigots?"

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