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Maryland May Recognize Out-of-State Gay Marriages

The Maryland attorney general today said that the state should recognize gay marriages performed in other statesHere's the text [PDF] of the attorney general's opinion.

This would make Maryland and New York the only states that don't allow gay marriage themselves, but do recognize ones from states where gay marriage is legal.

But be careful what you read about this. The Lambda Legal press release, for example, says that Maryland has now joined New York in recognizing out of state gay marriages, but the attorney general's opinion has made no new law.

In fact, the opinion suggests three ways Maryland could implement this recognition:

Such marriages may be recognized in several ways. 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.

I also found interesting the attorney general's list of how the marital status of gay couples married in a different state is important to the Maryland government. He said:

  1. The couple could move to Maryland for employment.
  2. They might take a vacation in Maryland or stop there while traveling to another state.
  3. They might live in Maryland, go to another state to get married, and then return.
  4. Without ever stepping foot in Maryland, their marital status might be legally significant for other people that do live there.

[Cross-posted at the Gay Couples Law Blog. Published by Gideon Alper, who also publishes the Atlanta Divorce Law Blog, it discusses same sex family law, estate planning, and taxes.]

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Gideon Alper

Gideon Alper